The International Cricket Council’s television and digital rights bundle for the Indian sub-continent will be up for sale. The assessment documents will be submitted in Dubai on August 22, while the submission date of the finance bid is August 26.
The ICC has unbundled the rights for the men’s and women’s matches and is seeking separate bids for the next cycle of eight years from 2024 to 2031.
According to the guidelines set by the game’s governing body, if there is a tie between the bidders then an e-auction will be held to decide the successful bidder. Though several media giants have expressed concerns over the transparency of the process, quite a few top companies are in the fray to bag the rights.
Who are the major players?
Some of the potential bidders include Star, Viacom18, Sony, Zee, FanCode and Amazon. While Star and Viacom bagged the television and digital rights respectively in the IPL media rights auction, the Jeff Bezos-owned Amazon had pulled out of the auction despite initial interest.
There has been a fair bit of controversy with a few companies alleging a conflict of interest against Indra Nooyi – the only female representative in the ICC’s Board of Directors. Nooyi is also part of the Amazon’s board.
Is there a conflict?
The answer is no. According to the ICC, Nooyi has recused herself from the upcoming media rights sale. She will not be part of the final ICC Board decision on the ITT. A former chairperson-CEO of PepsiCo, Nooyi is also a part of the ICC’s powerful financial and commercial affairs (F&CA) committee.
The ICC has confirmed that Nooyi never violated its constitution and regulations on the ‘Conflict of Interest’ issue.
The clause 220.127.116.11 of ICC constitution states that “When a Director, committee member or staff member has or may have an actual, apparent or potential Conflict of Interest in respect of his duties to the ICC, he/she must disclose the Conflict to the Ethics Officer without delay (and where possible make disclosure prior to his election or appointment as Director, staff member or committee member), or if such Conflict arises during meeting, he must disclose the Conflict to relevant chair of meeting.”
What are the other concerns?
Ever since the ICC announced its media rights auction, Indian companies have expressed concerns over the process, with some indicating a lack of transparency. However, the ICC had issued a long clarification, stating that the value of four and eight-year bids will remain undisclosed to protect the principle of ‘closed’ bidding.
Concerns, however, remain on how the ICC will decide on the winners of the first round and how the successful candidates will be chosen for the second. The second round could be an e-auction if needed and could be held on August 29. The companies have sought more clarity.
What is ICC’s stand?
After the sealed bids are submitted by August 22, the ICC wants to do a check on the guarantees and other the due diligence to make sure that the process is ‘fool-proof’.
The ICC has also clarified that the rights holders will have to bear a 20 per cent premium in case of an event being shifted to IST. However, there will be a discount of 20 percent if an event is relocated to a non-Indian time zone of more than four-hour difference.
The ICC has clarified that there is no liability or responsibility for the broadcasters over withholding tax and the Indian companies can follow the law of the land on the broadcast fee when an event is held in India.