Pakistan news September 6, 2013

PCB strikes up short-term TV-rights deals

Dubai-based TV channel Ten Sports and Pakistani sports channel Geo Super bagged the television rights for Pakistan's upcoming series against South Africa and Sri Lanka, in the UAE, respectively. The values of the deals have been kept confidential by the PCB, but the board said they are "higher" than the previous contract. Both the broadcasters will cover the production cost as well as that of the technology used for the DRS on their own.

"The PCB will not be announcing the rights-fee amounts finalised for these tours," a PCB spokesman said. "The offers, however, are significantly higher than the values that PCB had received for these series under the previous media rights contract."

Ten claimed a series of two Tests, five ODIs and two T20s, while Geo will be televising three Tests, five ODIs and two T20s along with the one-off T20 between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan's previous five-year deal with Ten concluded in July, with the PCB contemplating series-by-series deals while the caretaker board set-up, led by Najam Sethi, is in charge; the interim setup of the PCB affected the chances of securing a long-term deal, with Sethi's powers limited and reduced to a day-to-day basis.

Geo, apart from the international series, holds the TV rights for domestic cricket in Pakistan until October this year. The channel, which televised the feed of 2011 World Cup matches, is said to have run into financial difficulties with previous broadcast deals to show world events. The PCB, in order to counter financial defaulting, has asked the broadcaster for a full bank guarantee before the series.

The deal with Geo is understood to be questionable, with Sethi involved in a case of conflict of interest as he is a key employee of Geo TV Network. He is Pakistan's senior-most journalist and an anchor of Geo News' popular political programme Aapas ki Baat. The PCB however defended the process, saying it was fully transparent.

"Two bidders participated in the bidding process," the spokesman said. "The financial bids of both were evaluated in accordance with the terms of the invitation to tender. As a result of this process, the offer from Ten Sports for South Africa series, being the highest, and the offer of Geo for the Sri Lanka series, also being the highest, was recommended by the bids committee to the board of governors of the PCB for approval. This approval has since been received [and] the media rights for the two tours have accordingly been awarded, and this transparent tender process has been concluded."

The bidding process was conducted by former ICC President Ehsan Mani, who apart from being the advisor was the bids committee head, along with another independent member, retired justice Shabbar Raza Rizvi.

The broadcasting deal is one of the major sources of income for the PCB. The previous TV deal, worth approximately USD 140 million suffered a hefty loss of USD 80 million following the cancelation of two bilateral series against India. While the PCB refused to reveal the value of the short-term deals, ESPNcricinfo understands the value of two series would negatively affect the long-term deal next year.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here