A civil court in Lahore has barred the Pakistan Cricket Board from terminating its broadcast rights deal with PTV after the country’s state-run broadcaster took legal action against the body.
The court issued a stay order to the PCB for violating an agreement with PTV and has blocked the body from granting rights to private channels as its existing agreement with the broadcaster still has two years to run.
It is understood that a private channel recently began broadcasting Pakistan matches, while PTV is seeking Rs2 billion ($11.4 million) in damages from the PCB.
News of the terminated deal emerged earlier this week and, to replace the PTV contract, the PCB had launched a new tender process for media rights for the national men’s team's upcoming home series against the West Indies and Australia across the 2021-22 season.
That process will have to be temporarily halted for now until the dispute is resolved.
When the contract between the PCB and PTV was originally struck in September last year, it was signed off as a three-year deal until 2023 (worth $200 million in total), with an agreement also being struck between the broadcaster and the Cable Association of Pakistan, a body that would work to ensure the PCB’s content was not redistributed without permission.
The PCB terminated both the PTV deal and its arrangement with I-Media Communications Services, a production firm that was meant to assist with simultaneous cable distribution, on 5 November without any notice.
It is believed that the PCB took this course of action as it felt that PTV and I-Media had failed to implement the Digital Pakistan policy as part of the contract, which relates to protection against illegal distribution.
The deal with I-Media was supposed to ensure that the distribution of cricket content would only be done through licensed cable operators and that the value of the content would be protected against this threat.
PTV claims that the PCB did not address any grievances to its managing director, as the contract stipulated.
The state-operated broadcaster opened legal proceedings against the national cricket body claiming that the PCB ultimately violated the agreement which granted it exclusive rights and requested a court order for the organisation to honour its contract.
The PCB must submit a reply to the court by 6 December.
The PTV agreement severed the PCB’s ties with Ten Sports, the broadcaster which had regularly covered home Pakistan series’ since the 2000s.
Ten let its five-year contract with the PCB expire in 2019, whereupon PTV stepped in, with that agreement seemingly giving the governing body some security around its broadcast partner for the next three years.
The board’s previous four-year rights deal with Ten Sports was worth $149 million.