CCI’s fine not enough to stop BCCI’s dominance abuse
There was never any doubt that the Board of Control for Cricket in India is an overwhelmingly dominant regulatory—it’s cricket’s sole authority in India. Add its considerable economic clout—enough to make even cricket’s international regulatory authority, the International Cricket Council, kowtow to its demands—and this makes a perfect recipe for an abuse of this dominance. That’s 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 BCCI’s 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 didn’t 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 tournaments—Zee Entertainment’s Indian Cricket League, for example. According to the order, while it cannot be said conclusively that the ICL’s failure was solely due to BCCI’s dominance, it can be said that this was definitely a factor.
The BCCI’s rigging didn’t 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 organisation—which begs the question why it hasn’t been investigated earlier for being the richest cricket board in the world—and such revenue-generating activities such as the grant of