ICC Media Rights: Lack of clarity on India-Pakistan fixtures concerns Indian broadcasters

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ICC Media Rights: Lack of clarity on India-Pakistan fixtures concerns Indian broadcasters

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is set to announce tenders for its media rights at the end of July. Major broadcasters across all the regions including Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and America are willing to bid for the ICC media rights.

However, the ICC is yet to make a clarification on withholding tax for media rights which is hindering the thoughts of television broadcasters & digital players. Another significant concern is the formula to decide the four and eight-year bids for Indian broadcasters and digital streaming platforms.

The biggest worry for the Indian broadcasters is the ICC’s silence on an unthinkable scenario of the Indian team failing to qualify at the knockouts stage and the absence of assurances that every ICC event will have a definite India-Pakistan fixture.

An ICC fixture between two arch-rivals of the sport is a commercial blockbuster in terms of television and digital streaming. However, in the latest ITT guideline by the council, no such assurances are made for future ICC events.

The broadcasters are in a sense of endangerment and are willing to seek guarantees from ICC in order to apply in the bidding process. The buyers of the ITT for broadcasting have time to seek clarifications till July 15, 2022.

The ICC in its response said that it cannot comment on commercially sensitive topics & such guarantees cannot be provided. Referring to a recent incident, the apex body said that there was no India-Pakistan fixture scheduled at the ICC T-20 World Cup 2020 in Australia that got postponed due to the pandemic. Every ICC event since the 2015 World Cup has featured an India-Pakistan fixture. It is part of the 2022 World Cup in Australia as well – slated for Sunday, October 23 at the MCG.

ICC will issue the broadcasting rights for Indian television and digital streaming for the period of 2024-31. Prospective buyers have to bid for four years & will have the liberty to bid for eight years as well. One can bid for the television rights and digital rights separately as well as place a composite bid for both rights. 

The winning bid should be paid on the following break-up: 23 percent in 2024, 24 percent in 2025, 26 percent in 2026, and 27 percent in 2027. The ITT, being sold for USD 30,000, will be available for purchase till August 5. The bids must be submitted on August 22 and they will be opened on August 26 in Dubai. The ICC said that the successful bidders will be announced by early September.

In view of such a long duration of the contract, it is likely that the Indian broadcasters will seek clarity on withholding tax and assurance on India-Pak games before bidding their amount.

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