The Pakistan Cricket Board has reached an out-of-court settlement with that country’s state-run broadcaster PTV, bringing to an end a legal wrangle that had threatened to leave home series played by the country’s men’s national team without a domestic TV partner, according to reports.
The two parties are said, thanks to a mediation that reportedly went through the office of the Pakistan prime minister and former national team captain Imran Khan, to have agreed a revised version of the deal which they originally struck in September 2020 (with I-Media Communication Services as a third party) and that the PCB had attempted to terminate late last month.
ESPNCricinfo has reported that both organisations will withdraw their legal actions against the other, with the revenue-sharing distribution element having been altered and I-Media’s role in the arrangement having been brought to a complete end.
Now, under the revised terms of the contract – under which PTV had originally agreed to pay the PCB $200 million over three years – 72 per cent of the revenue from commercial deals sold through the broadcaster’s coverage will go to the PCB, while only 28 per cent will head to PTV.
This is a contrast to the previous distribution model, in which 57.5 per cent of revenue from that sector went to the governing body and 42.5 per cent to the broadcaster.
Late last month, a court in Lahore issued a stay order to the PCB for violating an agreement with PTV and blocked the body from granting rights for upcoming national team action to private channels – as its existing agreement with the state broadcaster still has two years to run.
PTV was also reported to be seeking Rs2 billion ($11.4 million) in damages from the PCB after the governing body first tried to unilaterally conclude the deal, and then attempted to launch a new tender for the men’s team’s upcoming series against the West Indies and Australia later in the 2021-22 season, last month.
PTV claimed as well that the PCB did not address any grievances to its managing director, as the contract stipulated.
The PCB terminated both the PTV deal and its arrangement with I-Media Communications Services, on 5 November without any notice, reportedly because 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 between the two parties was partly based around ‘Digital Pakistan’ – a mass migration from analogue to digital TV in the country of which an element is based around regulating the business of illegal cable TV operators stealing content.
The PCB has been increasingly frustrated over the last 12 months by the rollout’s slowness, and the unilateral decision to end the deal and take matters into its own hands is a testament to that frustration.
The deal with I-Media, a key part of the overall agreement, 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 the threat of unauthorised cable transmission but has now been ended, reportedly due to non-compliance with regards to payments due.
To replace the PTV contract, the PCB tried to launch a new tender process on 17 November for rights for the aforementioned series against the West Indies and Australia. However, that process was then halted when the Lahore court issued its edict to the national governing body.
When it was struck, 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.
The Men’s T20 World Cup, in which Pakistan reached the semi-finals last month, was covered in the country by A-Sports, a pay-TV HD sports channel launched by the ARY Group.