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Indian broadcasters raise multiple red flags on ICC auction process

Sony Pictures Network India (SPN), DisneyStar, Zee Entertainment, and Viacom18 have raised concerns about the ‘lack of transparency’ in the upcoming media rights auction process for global cricket events, including ICC Men’s World Cup, T20 World Cup, and Champions Trophy, a news report said.

The potential bidders in India for media rights have raised red flags on four issues as SPN has reportedly written a letter to the International Cricket Council (ICC) over the auction process, a report in the Economic Times said.

This comes as the governing body of world cricket is auctioning Indian media rights separately from global media rights as India is the largest market for cricket.

The top four Indian broadcasters mentioned above, who have bought the tender documents, have criticised the use of sealed envelope bidding over e-auction, ET reported.

Executives of all four companies told ET that they have also flagged: a) the three-week gap between submission of bids and winner announcement, b) lack of clarity on the multiplier formula for four-year rights versus eight-year rights, and c) the demand for an upfront deposit of 5 per cent.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has already taken the step to do transparent e-auctions and the ICC could follow the same, the broadcasters think, reported ET.

A top executive of a broadcasting network told ET, “In today’s age, it is unheard of to do a sealed bid auction and then wait for three weeks. Why should my financial bid be with them for three weeks.”

The ICC could get all the directors in the room and open the bids, he told the newspaper, adding, “Instead, they are waiting for three weeks. Is it for re-negotiating?”

Earlier, a report by ET had said that the ICC had not kept any reserve price for auctions as it had invited closed bids by August-end from the bidders.

By the third week of August, ICC was looking for bids submission, and by September first week, it would have formulated recommendations to the board for final approval, an official from the global cricket governing body had told ET.

However, the ICC is willing to go for a second round, if the bids would not be up to the mark, or if there would be room for improvement, a top source from the global body’s board had said, reported ET.

While he confirmed to ET that one broadcaster had written to ICC on the auction process, he said that by and large, all the bidders were fine with the process.

“We’ve addressed this earlier too, and we feel that a sealed bid is always going to give us the best number. Unlike e-auction, bidders are not looking over their shoulder and just increasing it by a little bit,” he told ET.

Talking about the three weeks gap, the executive said that the bid oversight committee will try to get everything sorted within the given timeframe.

On confusion over the multiplier formula, the ICC source told, “We have done a complete complex model and have a multiplier ready. We will take the best four-year number, apply that multiplier, and check the best eight-year number.” Business Standard

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