IPL broadcast rights process likely to be delayed after Lodha Committee directive

BCCI president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke have been asked to submit affidavits of compliance to the Supreme Court by December 3 AFP

The opening of the bids for the IPL broadcast rights is likely to be delayed after the Lodha Committee told BCCI president Anurag Thakur to submit a letter stating the board will "unreservedly comply" with the Supreme Court order of October 21. The Committee, on Monday, said the letter would be necessary before it issues any directives to the BCCI. The bids for television and digital rights were set to be opened and finalised on Tuesday in Mumbai.

Last week, the Supreme Court passed an order that limits the financial freedom of the BCCI until the board and its state associations comply with the Committee's recommendations. One of the directives in the order was that the Lodha Committee would set a "threshold value" for various contracts the BCCI enters into, and all contracts in excess of that amount would need the Committee's approval. The Committee was also asked to appoint an independent auditor to oversee contracts from the tender stage.

"The Committee is in receipt of your email and letter dated 21.10.2016 which refers to the Order of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of the same date," the e-mail sent to BCCI on Monday said. "1. Before the Committee proceeds to issue any directions, it would need to satisfy itself that the BCCI administration is willing to comply with the Order of the Hon'ble Supreme Court dated 21.10.2016. As you can understand, this would be necessary in view of the BCCI's stand concerning the earlier order of 18.7.2016. In this regard, the Committee requires a letter of compliance from the President BCCI duly undertaking on behalf of the BCCI to unreservedly comply with the Order of the Hon'ble Supreme Court dated 21.10.2016."

The court had also ordered the BCCI not to distribute funds to its state associations until they submit affidavits stating compliance with the recommendations to the court and the Lodha Committee in two weeks. In addition, Thakur and BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke were asked to submit an "affidavit of compliance" in the court by December 3, elaborating on the recommendations already implemented by the BCCI and what it had done to persuade the state associations to adopt the recommendations.

Shirke had then sent an e-mail to the Committee seeking direction on whether the bidding process could go ahead. The BCCI also sent an email to the 18 prospective bidders on Sunday, saying it was awaiting directions from the Committee for the bidding process.

"Further to the order of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India dated 21st October 2016, the BCCI has submitted all the documentation pertaining to the IPL ITT process for the Media Rights to the Hon'ble Supreme Court appointed Justice Lodha Committee and are awaiting directions from them," the board's email said. "We will keep you informed of the further course of action as may be advised by the Justice Lodha Committee."

The Lodha Committee had questions for the BCCI in its reply, regarding the start and end dates of the ten-year period for rights.

"In your letter dated 21.10.2016, the first paragraph reads as follows: '1) The BCCI has already declared the process of a global tender for the IPL rights, where the previous Ten-year rights contract ended with the end of IPL season May 2016, as it was mandated to do so by the expiring contract.'

"The Committee has 2 specific questions in this regard: a. When did the previous ten-year rights period come to an end? b. When does the next ten-year rights period commence?"

The rights in the current cycle are held by Sony Pictures Network India (SPNI) and will expire after IPL 2017. In September, the BCCI had announced that the next cycle of IPL rights would be sold via an open tender process. Eighteen companies eventually bought the Invitation To Tender document for television and digital rights.

In 2008, the Singapore-based World Sports Group bagged the IPL television rights for a ten-year period with a $918 million bid. It simultaneously signed a deal with Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd. (MSM) that Sony would be the official broadcaster. The contract was recast before IPL 2009, with MSM agreeing to pay $1.63 billion for nine years.