The fate of the proposed Test series between India and Pakistan hinges on which television network gets to broadcast it. Sources in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said while both the boards are keen on playing the series, the negotiations are stuck on the question of which broadcaster will air the matches.
The rights to the matches hosted by PCB are owned by Ten Sports, a sports broadcast network owned by leading entrepreneur Subhash Chandra.
BCCI, however, is learnt to be extremely displeased with Chandra over his alleged recent efforts to launch an alternative cricket body within India as well as globally.
Besides, the current BCCI chairman Jagmohan Dalmiya and Chandra have had an extremely strained relationship in the past. In 2004, BCCI and Zee Telefilms owned by Chandra were caught in a protracted legal battle after the Indian cricket board annulled the bidding process in which Zee Telefilms had emerged as the highest bidder for the telecast rights to the matches played in India during 2004-08.
In September 2004, while fighting the legal case against BCCI, Chandra had also filed a police complaint against Dalmiya alleging that he threatened him of causing damage to his life over the phone. It was after a series of ugly brushes with Dalmiya and the BCCI that Chandra had vowed to launch a cricket establishment of his own.
Sources said all these reasons have led to BCCI taking the stand that it will play with Pakistan only if the matches are not aired by Ten Sports.
“Our stand is quite clear. We will not play the series if Ten Sports is the broadcaster,” said a senior BCCI official not wanting to be named.
This has put PCB in a legal quandary as about a month ago, it sold its telecast rights to Ten Network for $150 million for five years. “The next highest bid for the matches hosted by Pakistan board was $90 million.
“Ten Sports offered us $60 million more and won the rights in the most transparent manner. Now, if we let some other network telecast the matches we will be inviting a legal problem,” said Shahryar Khan, chairman, PCB, who is in New Delhi currently to “sort out” the issue.
Sources said BCCI has proposed that the series be organised in India. Pakistani board, however, isn’t agreeable to the idea as it will mean sharing a part of the moolah raised through broadcast rights with BCCI.
“Why should we do that? We all know that India-Pakistan matches are the most lucrative of all the cricket matches. As it is, the Indian board is quite rich. Why should we compromise with our opportunity to make some money,” said a senior PCB member not wanting to be named.
The PCB, however, seems open to the idea of some other broadcaster stepping in and agreeing to pay as much as Ten Sports for its rights. “Then, we can knock them (Ten Sports) out and award the rights to them. This could solve the problem,” the member added.
Ten Sports, meanwhile, is not ready to cede its position in the battle between BCCI and PCB.
“We won the Pakistan cricket rights through a transparently fought process. How can anybody throw us out? We will, obviously, fight it out,” said Rajesh Sethi, Global CEO, Ten Sports.