ICC Media Rights: Broadcasters formally write to ICC, say tender for media rights doesn’t ‘encourage’ them to bid
ICC Media Rights: The International Cricket Council (ICC) has received a letter from all four cricket broadcasters who took part in the e-auction for the media rights of the Indian Premier League (IPL), including Disney, Viacom18, Sony, and Zee, informing it that the current tender document does not encourage them to submit a bid.
The sheer lack of transparency surrounding the procedure is what drove all four broadcasters to write to the ICC, and they have all hinted (though not explicitly) that they might not show up at the bidding table.
This week, after the ICC sent out a lengthy list of clarifications to the broadcasters, answering their questions in great detail but making no significant modifications to the tender process, ugly, coupled with some potential for future litigation and quite a bit of hostility, pervaded the air.
“All four broadcasters have written to the ICC. We’ve been reading media reports on how Amazon wants to be in the fray too, which is fine. But there’s no clue if Amazon is ‘happy’ with this process. If they are, even I’d love to know the whys and hows of what they’re seeing here that we’re missing. As far as we are concerned, it’s clear – the current process doesn’t encourage us to submit a bid,” a leading broadcaster told TOI.
To win the rights for ICC’s international events for the India markets, broadcasters must submit a closed bid during the tender process. Without specifying the parameters used or deciding how it will evaluate the proposals, the ICC has welcomed bids for both four and eight years.
“They’ve asked us to participate in a mock-auction this week (between 16th & 17th). We’re yet to confirm the same, don’t know about the others. What I can tell you is, we’ll be watching this till the final hour,” another broadcaster said.
Jay Shah, the secretary of the BCCI and India’s representative on the ICC’s crucial Chief Executives Committee (CEC), has unequivocally demanded that the parent organisation take the e-auction process into consideration merely because it ensures procedural transparency.
“BCCI’s decision to conduct the same of IPL rights through e-auction not just helped them with great price-discovery but also, and more importantly, ensured that all the bidders enjoyed a level-playing field. ICC’s refusal to take this into consideration raises a lot of questions on the process. Even if they didn’t want to consider an e-auction, what we can’t understand is, why should the closed bids not be opened on the day of submissions, in front of all the bidders?
“Also, what are the metrics behind these four, and eight-year bids? There must be method being applied, right? I personally don’t agree with them asking for an eight-year number. But even if some others find logic on it, on what basis will these rights be awarded?” says another leading broadcaster.
The bids have to be submitted in two parts: A) Technical; B) Financial.
“Now, once the technical bids have submitted, shouldn’t the financial bid awarded to the party that presents the highest number? Technically, if everyone’s qualified then it’s only about the per-match number, right? And there again, there’s an issue. What’s the guarantee whose number the highest if the bids not opened in front of everyone?” the broadcasters say.
The hatred in the air, however, is largely due to whispers that are going around about how the eight-year option makes one possible bidder the preferred candidate above the others in the exceedingly convoluted process.
“Nobody will talk about it and it’s understandable. But there are these underlying fears,” industry executives say.
To top it all off, the ICC has stated that if it is “unsatisfied” with the “closed bids” it receives. It will call for an e-auction after 48 hours without specifying how “satisfaction” will defined.
“Let’s see what they have to say about the letters that have written,” broadcasters say.
The governing body of the ICC met with each potential broadcaster several times prior to the tender process. To discuss the adjustments that sought and to clarify how it would proceed with the process in general.
“Well, we can’t do much if certain individuals or companies still ‘unconvinced’. There are a set of processes that we have identified. And we feel it’s the best possible recourse for us, in terms of deriving optimum value. Can’t help much, except that we’re open to taking all questions, as much as possible,” say those who’ve worked with the ICC to bring out this tender.
The ICC’s request for an eight-year contract motivated more by “political overtones” than by commercial considerations.