Auditor 'in the picture to ensure transparent IPL rights auction'
The organisers of the Indian Premier League are reported to be seeking to assure bidders for the broadcasting rights to the popular Twenty20 cricket competition that the process will be above board by emphasising the role of independent monitors.
India’s Supreme Court is set to consider a petition from Subramanian Swamy, a member of the country’s parliament, that, for reasons of transparency, the rights for the next five years be awarded via an electronic auction.
However, the Board of Control for Cricket in India is said to be concerned that this would have a negative impact on potential revenues as bids are likely to be lower given that interested parties will know how much competitors have offered.
It favours the traditional method of sealed bids and has appointed international financial services company Deloitte and Indian legal firm Amarchand Mangaldas to oversee the process.
Deloitte previously conducted an audit of the BCCI state units and recommended a model for the distribution of funding.
Questioned on the issue of transparency, a BCCI source told Indian Express today: “That’s why Deloitte is in the picture. Sealed bid documents will be opened in front of everyone and, after that, representatives of Deloitte will tell what the bids are so that no questions are raised.”
Swamy has claimed an e-auction is necessary to ensure transparency given that the Indian rights to the IPL are expected to generate up to Rs300 billion ($4.7 billion) over five years.
The Supreme Court has asked the BCCI and Swamy to issue comments on the petition ahead of a hearing on 22 August.
Under the process it has in place, the BCCI has set a deadline of 28 August for bids for the IPL to be submitted, and expects to award the rights that day.
Sony Pictures Networks has held the exclusive domestic television rights to the IPL in a nine-year deal worth Rs82 billion that expired after the 2017 tournament, but is likely to face strong competition from Star India, which has controlled the digital rights for the past three years, as it seeks to retain the contract.
The domestic and international media rights to the IPL for 2018 onwards were originally due to be awarded late last year, but the process was postponed in October amid a legal battle between the former BCCI administration and the Supreme Court.
The BCCI attracted expressions of interest from 18 Indian and international companies, including internet giants Amazon, Facebook and Twitter, before being forced to delay the process.
To that number can now be added Discovery Communications, the US media giant, and YuppTV, an international over-the-top broadcaster, both of which are reported to have bought the bid documents.
Discovery launched DSport, an Indian television sports channel, this year and is said to be targeting cricket content, while YuppTV landed exclusive digital rights in Canada and non-exclusive digital rights in continental Europe to the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy held in England this June.