THE LODHA committee seems to have hit the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) where it hurts most by stalling their tender process for IPL broadcast rights. The BCCI were originally scheduled to open and finalise the bids for television and digital rights on Tuesday. That is before they received a letter from the Lodha committee asking the BCCI president Anurag Thakur to provide a ‘letter of compliance’ to ‘unreservedly comply’ with the Supreme Court’s order on October 21. And they are left with no option but to postpone the finalising of the deal, leaving the 18 bidders in the lurch and a cloud over the IPL.
The order that is referred to in the email sent by Lodha committee secretary Gopal Sankaranarayanan to Ajay Shirke was passed last Friday and it said that the BCCI could not enter into any contracts above a monetary ceiling fixed by the Supreme Court-appointed committee. In addition to imposing this sanction, the order had also asked the Lodha committeee to appoint an independent auditor to scrutinize all the BCCI’s accounts and also oversee all tenders and contracts released and signed by the board.
“Before the Committee proceeds to issue any directions, it would need to satisfy itself that the BCCI administration is willing to comply with the Order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 21.10.2016. As you can understand, this would be necessary in view of the BCCI’s stand concerning the earlier order of 18.7.2016,” reads Sankaranarayanan’s email sent on Monday.
Later in the day, the BCCI responded to the email, reiterating their stance that they were “duty-bound to comply with the order” and that “it was their consistent endeavour of the BCCI office-bearers to ensure implementation of the recommendations of the Committee”.
The email, that has been accessed by The Indian Express, reiterated that they couldn’t get the requiste percentage of members from the state associations that was needed to pass the motion according to the Tamil Nadu societies act during their SGM on October 1. It further said this was despite the fact that the motion was proposed by the secretary and seconded by president. “It may be noted that the BCCI, the President and Secretary BCCI do not have any vote or decision making power in such meetings,” the response reads.
“The President and Secretary BCCI assure the Committee that they would take all necessary steps in accordance with law to ensure compliance of the directions set out in paragraph 20 of the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” Shirke adds in the email.
Sankaranarayan’s letter had originally been sent in response to an earlier email from Shirke to the committee asking for clarifications and directives regarding the IPL biding rights soon after the October 21 order. Recent reports had revealed that 18 companies, including social media giants Twitter and Facebook, had bought the tender document vying for global media rights comprising of broadcast, mobile and internet.
It their email, the Lodha committee had posed a few queries of its own to the BCCI about the IPL tender process and its tenure.
“In your letter dated 21.10.2016, the first paragraph reads as follows: “1) The BCCI has already declared the process of a global tender for the IPL rights, where the previous Ten-year rights contract ended with the end of IPL season May 2016, as it was mandated to do so by the expiring contract.“ The Committee has 2 specific questions in this regard: a. When did the previous Ten-year rights period come to an end? b. When does the next Ten-year rights period commence?” it reads.
The IPL broadcast rights are presently held by Sony Pictures Network India (SPNI), and their 10-year-cycle is about to end next year post the tenth edition of the IPL. The BCCI in their response have detailed the exact tenure for the existing broadcast rights and the timeline for bidding for the next 10-year-cycle.