SC refuses to direct BCCI to e-auction IPL broadcast rights

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New Delhi | Published: August 29, 2017 3:59:44 AM

In a major boost for the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the Supreme Court on Monday rejected plea for e-auction of the Indian Premier League (IPL) media and digital rights for the next 5 years.

IPL broadcast rights, bcci, supreme court, RM Lodha Committee, ipl media rightsThe BCCI can now have a closed tender process as it believed that it is the best way to ‘price discovery’.

In a major boost for the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the Supreme Court on Monday rejected plea for e-auction of the Indian Premier League (IPL) media and digital rights for the next 5 years. A bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra rejected the plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy who wanted a stay on the ongoing tendering process for awarding media rights for the IPL events. Refusing to interfere with the media rights process, the apex court said that e-auction isn’t a must. It said that “the e-auction stand closed.” However, the CJI said that “it is not inclined to close the matter” as Swamy had pointed out conflict of interest in the whole process and wanted to file fresh affidavit in this regard.

Swamy had asked for an e-auction keeping in mind the reforms suggested by the RM Lodha Committee last year to ensure transparency. The BCCI can now have a closed tender process as it believed that it is the best way to ‘price discovery’. The submission date for the Invitation To Tender (ITT) has been re-scheduled for September 1. While the broadcast rights for the Indian subcontinent are for 10 seasons (from 2018 to 2027), the IPL digital rights are valid for five seasons (from 2018 to 2022). The international media rights would be also in force for five years.

As many as 24 companies, including Star India and Sony Pictures Network, have so far purchased bid documents to get broadcast rights which are expected to fetch an unprecedented amount of over Rs 20,000 crore for the richest cricket board. The broadcast rights are divided into three categories — TV, mobile and internet. The deadline for submission of sealed bids is September 4. However, senior counsel Prag Tripathi and Abhishek Singhvi opposed Swamy’s plea, saying the BCCI expects huge money and the ongoing tender process had to be done in one shot and that too on the same day.Tripathi, appearing for the CoA headed by former CAG Vinod Rai, said the ongoing tender process was a better option as all the bidders put their best bids in a sealed envelope to get the media rights.

Swamy had argued that the present auction worth Rs 30,000 crore for media rights of IPL 11 was opaque and it should be transparent. He had pointed out that the apex court in 2G scam and coal scam had earlier held that e-auction was the best method for awarding contracts.“The commercial interests and huge money is involved, amounting to Rs 25,000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore, in the valuable rights associated with the game of cricket in India, which makes it mandatory to have a robust, completely transparent auction method to maximise revenue and prevent vested interest from making undue gains,” he said in his petition.Singapore-based World Sport Group had bagged the IPL broadcasting rights for 10 years in 2008 by spending $918 million. A year later, the contract was replaced when Sony Group (through Multi Screen Media) paid $1.63 billion for the nine-year broadcasting rights.

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