BCCI Demands BBC Pay Extra $80,000 For Rights To Test Match Special
English cricket lovers face being "deprived of overseas commentary from BBC Radio's iconic Test Match Special programme for the first time in almost 40 years because greedy Indian administrators are holding them to ransom," according to Peter Hayter of the London DAILY MAIL. The Board of Control for Cricket in India has "broken with convention" by demanding the BBC pay an extra £50,000 ($80,485) to cover the costs of broadcast facilities during the upcoming Test series between England and India. Meanwhile, Sky Television has been told it must pay almost £500,000 ($804,850). Both broadcasters "insist the fees were not mentioned" by the BCCI when the agreements to cover the series were finalized six weeks ago. At that time, Sky also signed a deal to cover Test cricket in India for the next six years. It is looking more and more likely that Test Match Special, "considered by many to be the soundtrack to the game since its inception in '57, will fall quiet this winter, depriving hundreds of thousands of devoted fans of commentary" from Jonathan Agnew, Geoffrey Boycott, Michael Vaughan and Phil Tufnell. If the probelm is not resolved, Sky intends to "graft the words" of Ian Botham, David Gower, Mike Atherton and Nasser Hussain, commentating in a West London studio, on to pictures fed by Indian host broadcaster Star Sports. But the BBC is "unlikely to follow Sky's example" (DAILY MAIL, 10/27).
LENDING A HAND: In London, Nick Hoult reported that England and Wales Cricket Board Chair Giles Clark is "in talks with the Indian board" to try to solve a dispute with British broadcasters. Clarke has contacted BCCI Chair N Srinivasan to "thrash out a deal." However, if he fails, both broadcasters will be "reduced to providing commentary from studios in England." Sources have indicated that broadcasters "fear setting a precedent" if they cave to the Indian board’s last-minute demands. No other board has ever asked for money to provide commentary positions, and both broadcasters "feel the rights fees covered the provision of full facilities" (TELEGRAPH, 10/25). In Dubai, Osman Samiuddin opined that the BCCI is legally not "violating any stipulation." Some will "probably even applaud" the organization's sharpness in spotting an opportunity to make more money. Except that "this is not really about money." It is actually about the BCCI making money to "show that the ability to generate it endlessly also grants them the right to not just exercise, but to actively show off the power of that money: it is a naked show of strength." Furthermore, it is also about the BCCI's "overbearing control of the game, a control that envelops what people can say on air about a match being played in India." Finally, Samiuddin wrote, "If Sky's commentators are going to come here and raise issues we do not want raised, the BCCI seem to be saying, then they are at least going to pay us for the privilege" (THE NATIONAL, 10/28).