The Rajasthan Cricket Association chief Lalit Modi,
who has some experience in the medium, and Punjab
Cricket Association's I.S Bindra are the prime
movers in floating the proposal to launch a
television channel. They believe that a BCCI
channel exclusively dedicated to cricket can
telecast at least 29 Tests and 43 One-Day
Internationals every year. This would boost
revenues 12 times above what the Board hopes to
generate with the existing modules, they claim.
Their study revealed that the channel could rake in
revenue of Rs 2,189.9 crore in the first year and
peak at Rs 4,781.9 crore in the fifth year. The
first year of operation would cost the Board just
Rs 710.2 crore and by the fifth year the annual
expenses would be contained at Rs 1,161 crore.
While these figures would surely be salivating for
the Board, there are more than a few aspects to
Primarily, is running a television channel for
whatever motive the raison d'etre of the Board? The
Board's business is to run cricket efficiently in
the country. It already has adequate resources, yet
it's running of the game is far from satisfactory.
Poorly managed state associations are a drag on a
Board that itself stumbles from crisis to crisis.
Its image has taken such a beating in the past few
years that a television channel in its clutches can
only cause more damage, not contain it.
The study speaks of telecasting 29 Tests and 43
one-dayers annually. Surely all these are not being
played in India, or by India. Thus, to get the
rights from other countries, the Board will have to
bid along with other sports channels. Can it break
into existing arrangements that some channels
already have, like Ten Sports with the Pakistan
Cricket Board, for instance? This seems unlikely.
So the next best prospect would be for the Board to
negotiate with these channels for the right to
telecast in India. It is here that the projected
revenue modules for the channel could go haywire.
If the Board activates the proposal to leverage the
India rights for negotiating, it could actually
backfire. Especially as the Board's stakes are much
higher. This, in turn could make it a soft target
for exorbitant demands. Irrespective of whether it
gives in or opts out, it will take a hit.
Ultimately it might end up killing the goose that
lays the golden eggs.
If the Board moves into the business of telecasting
cricket, what would it do when other emerging media
like the internet, FM and community radio, and the
like get activated? Would it then enter into other
media? If it does, would it not dilute its core
responsibility of administering and promoting
Indeed if the Board has control over media, what
would happen when it goofs up like it did with the
ambush marketing clause during the World Cup or
players rights? How would the Board's television
channel project negative images like
ball-tampering, illegal bowling actions, poor
umpiring decisions, administrative lapses, etc?
Would these be glossed over, swept under the carpet
or tackled like any professional media unit would.
If it does the latter, would there not be a
conflict of interest?
What of the ICC's prized properties, the World Cup
tournaments and the ICC Champions Trophy. Both
deals are stitched up well in advance and there are
not too many within the ICC fold who are admirers
of the BCCI. And without these money-spinning
events, the Board's channel could be compromised.
Indeed, before the Board blindly leaps into the
fray and launches its channel it would do well to
study the reasons why Doordarshan, for all its
advantages, lost out. It too was a monopoly
organization with a captive viewership,
unbelievably superior reach and funding. But for
all its wealth and depth, it missed out on the most
important aspect of the media - credibility.
Consequently, when the private satellite channels
came knocking on Indian doors, the inevitable
happened. Doordarshan took a beating from which it
is yet to recover. BCCI, whose image and
credibility in the eyes of the public is in any
case suspect, may well suffer the same fate.
Let the Board be ambitious enough to ensure that
its conduct, administration and promotion of the
game are flawless and superb. But by no means
should greed be the prime motive driving it. For,
history is littered with lessons that greed never
pays. The Board must realise this before it is too