Television rights behind England making way for South Africa

Television rights and not the weather, it appears convinced Indian Premier League commissioner Lalit Modi to choose South Africa instead of England for the second edition of the Twenty20 tournament.

According to The Independent, Modi did not bother going on to London as initially planned to hear a pitch from the England and Wales Cricket Board for staging the game’s most lucrative competition.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India became less enthusiastic about hosting the event in Britain when they realised that apart from the bad weather in April and May, there may also encounter problems with broadcasting rights and revenue.

Leading sports lawyer, Stephen Hornsby asked, “Why would a commercial organisation like Sky pay a large amount of money to a sports governing body in return for exclusive rights in the territory, without preventing such a body from allowing a competitor to broadcast another event in the same territory at roughly the same time? The answer is that it would not.”

For example, Sky, the ECB’s main broadcast partners, paid an estimated $300 million for the latest right deal. But they did not hold the rights to broadcast the IPL, which went to their satellite rivals Setanta.

The ECB, in their eagerness to placate India, probably jumped the gun in assuming they could stage the tournament which clashes with the Test series against West Indies and two of the three One-Day Internationals.

“It is therefore safe to assume that unless Sky had waived its rights, the ECB would have been in breach of its lucrative contract if it had allowed the IPL to take place here,” said Hornsby.

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