FE Editorial : Board of Competition Control

Written by The Financial Express | Updated: Feb 11 2013, 05:38am hrs
CCIs fine not enough to stop BCCIs dominance abuse

There was never any doubt that the Board of Control for Cricket in India is an overwhelmingly dominant regulatoryits crickets sole authority in India. Add its considerable economic cloutenough to make even crickets international regulatory authority, the International Cricket Council, kowtow to its demandsand this makes a perfect recipe for an abuse of this dominance. Thats what the Competition Commission of India found when it fined the BCCI R52.24 crore for irregularities in the organisation of the Indian Premier League, the BCCIs flagship T20 league. The CCI found that, in awarding team franchise rights, there were attempts by then IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi to rig the bids by using arm-twisting tactics. These actions, the CCI order said, were made by Modi with the consent and approval of the IPL Committee. This is significant, since the BCCI has so far been alleging that Modi, as IPL Chairman and Commissioner, was outside its authority. But the CCI didnt buy this argument. This (the rigging) was being reported to BCCI on a regular basis and ratified by the Governing Council. Therefore, for all acts of commission and omission, BCCI cannot be absolved from its responsibility in the process of tendering, the order said. And, according to the order, not only was the BCCI complicit in the rigging of the bidding process, it used its clout to make sure the franchise agreements were loaded in its favour and franchises had no say in the terms of contract. In ensuring the success of the IPL, the BCCI used its influence to deny competitors to set up similar tournamentsZee Entertainments Indian Cricket League, for example. According to the order, while it cannot be said conclusively that the ICLs failure was solely due to BCCIs dominance, it can be said that this was definitely a factor.

The BCCIs rigging didnt stop at the bidding process and contract agreements, however. Even in the case of media rights, the CCI found violations of competition norms. According to it, the first meeting of the tender committee was postponed by two hours so as to facilitate the forming of a consortium between WSG and Sony. As the DG noted, the BCCI is supposed to be a non-profit organisationwhich begs the question why it hasnt been investigated earlier for being the richest cricket board in the worldand such revenue-generating activities such as the grant of franchise rights, media rights and other sponsorship rights should, by rights, not be part of its non-profit nature. But the bigger question is whether a R52.24 crore finea welcome first stepis enough to compel the BCCI to mend its ways. Seems unlikely.