Just ahead of the auctioning of Indian Premier League (IPL) broadcast rights for the next cycle, Dish TV's chairman and managing director Jawahar Goel has written a letter to the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to prevent Star India from acquiring the rights for broadcasting of the IPL, arguing that it would make them a monopoly in terms of cricket broadcasting rights.
According to a report in Mint, Goel, in a letter to the BCCI and CCI, has alleged that Star is on a rampant mission to eliminate competition in the cricket broadcast industry, and if they acquire the rights to broadcast the IPL, it would be a very big step in that direction.
“A perusal of the recent developments in the broadcasting sector would reveal that Star is systematically moving towards elimination of competition and creation of monopoly in the cricket telecast segment. They intend to exploit their monopoly status for maximising their subscription and advertisement revenue at the cost of consumers,” Goel reportedly wrote in the letter.
“Once Star acquires the telecast rights for IPL as well, not only will the market share in terms of viewership of Star skyrocket but distribution platforms such as DTH and multi system operators will have no choice but to subscribe to the Star Sports channels for cricket content,” Goel wrote.
Goel visualises the prospect of Star India winning the IPL rights as "anti-competitive" as well as "anti-consumer", reports The Hindu Business Line.
Moneycontrol further reports Goel revealing Star's dominance in cricket broadcasting in terms of numbers, as he says, "Out of the total 270 matches played/to be played by India during the period from 2012-2019, telecast rights of as many as 191 matches are with Star only, which is around 71 percent of the total matches."
The letter is also marked to the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), urging their intervention to ensure that fair play is maintained in the Indian market.
It is worth noting that Star India does actually hold a pole position in the Indian market when it comes to telecast of the major cricketing events. Goel revealed that Star India also has the global media rights for Asia Cup from 2016 to 2023, global broadcast rights for all ICC events from from 2015-2023 and additionally, the rights for all the bilateral series of the Cricket Broads of Australia, England and Bangladesh.
The IPL broadcasting rights presently are with Sony Pictures Network, although the digital rights are with Star India.
Star India has so far not given any official statement on the matter.
Although it remains to be seen if the BCCI does actually respond to this plea, Goel is hopeful that the BCCI will be wise enough to take a better decision, safeguarding the interests of consumers as distributors.
"We look forward towards BCCI to adopt pro-competitive and pro-consumer approach as one of the major criteria while awarding the IPL rights so that the rights of entire broadcasting and distribution sector as well as that of the viewers of cricketing events are safeguarded," The Economic Times quoted Goel as saying.
Both the IPL broadcasting and the digital rights are up for grabs for a five-year period ranging from 2018-2022. The bidding process is slated to continue till 28 August, with 24 August being the last date for the buying of bid documents.
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