MUMBAI: The International Cricket Council (ICC), on Friday, sent out a list of clarifications that were sought by broadcasters last month over the tender document to sell television and digital media rights for the next cycle.
After the ICC came out with the Invitation-To-Tender (ITT) immediately post the e-auction of Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights, broadcasters had raised a gamut of questions arising out of the complications they saw in the process.
While the clarifications have come in – some are listed below – broadcasters remain unconvinced about the manner in which the ICC has decided to go about with this whole process. The ICC maintains that should it remain unconvinced about the bids received in Round One – the metrics of which remain unmentioned – the bidding will move to Round Two, a process to be completed by way of an e-auction without explaining the metrics on which the decision will be based.
The governing body has in fact refused to change anything in the process that could bring in "more transparency", a request that's been put in by the broadcasters as well as some member boards.
Below are some of the clarifications that were sought by the broadcasters, how the ICC has responded to the queries and ICC's perspective to these frameworks.
Tender document says: The ICC has invited closed bids despite several stakeholders in the industry, as well as the BCCI, suggesting that an e-auction, like in the case of IPL, could be the way forward. What the ICC has suggested though is that if it is "not satisfied" with the closed bids submitted by the broadcasters – but hasn't clarified the criterion for 'satisfaction' – it will call for Round Two of the bidding process and that will be conducted by way of an e-auction. The ICC hasn't clarified either why it considered a closed bid over an e-auction in 'Round One'.
Clarification received: While it was reported earlier that the ICC will consider an e-auction for Round Two, the governing body has now officially announced the same in the responses submitted.
Tender document says: The ICC had invited bids for four and eight years – broadcasters can submit either or both – without explaining the metrics of how the winning bid will be identified and what multiplications will be applied to determine how a four-year bid gets preferred over an eight-year bid, apropos of the value submitted by broadcasters. The ICC hasn't explained the reasons for these complications either.
Clarification received: The ICC has made no changes to this, and the broadcasters say they're at their "wits end" trying to understand the reasons behind this.
Tender document says: The ICC had earlier proposed that once the bids come in, their own executive team will open the bids privately – and not in front of the bidders – at a later stage and announce the winning bid after a month without mentioning any details of the financial bids. No broadcaster will be informed, at any point, about the difference between the winning bid and the rest.
Clarification received: The only change made in this regard is, once the bids are submitted on August 26, the ICC will now open the bids inside a closed room in front of an individual representing each broadcaster. The ICC, however, will still not mention any details of the financial bid to these representatives and will ask them to leave the room and then analyze the bids privately to announce the winner.
Tender document says: The ICC had proposed that the broadcaster will have to withhold all tax liabilities for any tournament hosted in India,
Clarification received: The ICC has now clarified that the broadcaster will not be asked to withhold any tax liabilities for any tournament hosted in India and the governing body will take the onus upon itself. However, in the case of Pakistan hosting the Champions Trophy in 2025, the ICC is yet to clarify any tax-related matters and has said that it will communicate with the government.
Tender document says: The ICC said that in the event of any tournament being shifted to India or any India-friendly time-zone, the broadcaster will have to pay 20% extra given the size and volume of the cricket-friendly market.
Clarification received: The ICC has now added that if a broadcaster has to pay 20% extra in the event of a tournament being shifted to India or an India-friendly time-zone, they will also get to pay 20% less in the event of a tournament being shifted out of India or any India-friendly time-zone.
Tender document says: The ICC had earlier not shared any details of a potential Round Two of bidding that will be held by way of an e-auction, and not submitted any timelines for the same.
Clarification received: The ICC has now said that if they are "not satisfied" with the bids submitted in Round One – without mentioning the criterion of what qualifies as "satisfied" – Round Two of bidding, by way of an e-auction, will be called for in the next 48 hours. If not an e-auction, the stakeholders had requested the ICC to at least make the process more transparent by sharing financial details with all participants when bids are opened.
TOI went about seeking a perspective to these rules. While the broadcasters persisted with their demand for greater transparency, the ICC, it is learned, is forced to keep the option of an eight-year cycle in place, alongside the option of four years, due to the pressure from member boards who depend on the ICC hugely for revenues.
That aside, ICC sources say "the current tender process is the best model" they could manage for price discovery. "They strongly believe a closed bid can drive up the stakes," say those tracking developments.