MUMBAI: Viacom18, Disney, Sony and Zee – all four major broadcasters and potential bidders to pick the International Cricket Council (ICC) media rights for the India market later this month – stayed away from the mock-auction process on Wednesday.
TOI can confirm that all the four broadcasters made it a point to not attend the mock auction in order to take a stand on the processes that the ICC has put in place to carry out this bidding process.
Thursday will be the second of the two days that the ICC had set aside for mock auctions to be conducted, and while it must be waited and seen if any of the broadcasters agree to attend Day Two, the likelihood of such a thing happening is very little.
“All the four broadcasters have serious issues with the bidding process and it’s not the first time they’re taking a stand on this. They’ve written enough times to the ICC but the clarifications that came haven’t really mentioned any notable changes,” sources tracking these developments said.
Given the likelihood that the ICC will not make any changes to the process over the next 24 hours – considering, the governing body has maintained all along that they are “satisfied” with the process in place – it is equally unlikely that any of these broadcasters will attend Day Two of the mock auctions either.
Amazon and Fancode, who have also picked the tender document, are learnt to have given a go-ahead to attending the workshop but there was no official confirmation of the same.
The ‘mock auctions’ are a workshop to help the ICC and the bidders understand the e-auction process that will come up in Round Two if Round One (closed bidding) does not work.
The ICC brought about a minor change in the bidding process for Round One on Wednesday night when they asked the bidders to submit only the technical bid on August 22 (read: Envelope A) and the financial bid on August 26 (read: Envelope B) which will be opened the same day. The earlier rule stipulated broadcasters had to submit Envelopes A and B, both, on August 22 and while the ICC would open the technical bid on August 22, it would keep the financial bids with it, to be opened on 26th.
“It’s a minor change and doesn’t really mean anything. The processes continue to remain complicated, the metrics remain unexplained, the four and eight-year formula and multiples haven’t been spelled out. These are some major issues that broadcasters have time and again asked the ICC to look into because they’re just not fair,” sources added.
Right now, in fact, the irony is that all four broadcasters happen to be on the “same page” in how they see the bidding process but cannot collude – given that they’re competitors and have their respective management boards to report back to – and take a united stand.
TOI, however, has spoken to individuals in all the four broadcast houses and they are unanimous in voicing their concerns and mistrust in how the bidding process has been structured.
“The BCCI has taken a clear stand here that ICC should conduct an e-auction. This is getting extremely ugly because nobody trusts the process that’s been put in place. Now, what’s worse is that the ICC is selling the rights for the India market – which brings 70% of their global revenues – but don’t really care about what the cricket board here or the industry here is thinking about all this. That should also be a matter of grave concern for Indian stakeholders at a larger level,” say individuals in the know.
This piece is a FAQ on the present tender process, the concerns being raised by the broadcasters, and what the ICC has to say about it:
Day Two of the mock auction will resume on Thursday and sources say it is unlikely that any of the above-mentioned bidders will attend that either. “I can confirm to you that all bidders want to take a stand here but know there can’t be collusion. They’re trying to figure a middle-path that allows all of them to take their own stand on the auction process. It’s not like they want an e-auction only. A closed bid will also do, but the process can’t be as convoluted, secretive and poorly drafted as this one,” say those in the know.

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By Dipak

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