Are the broadcasters willing to pay a premium in case the tournament is moved to an IST time zone? ©Getty
A few contentious clauses in the International Cricket Council (ICC) media rights tender have taken Indian broadcasters by surprise. The clauses deal with rather hypothetical scenarios, but with costly consequences. Media officials rushed to provide clarification, seeking course corrections.
Specifically, the clauses of the ICC’s Invitation to Tender (ITT) regarding moving a tournament to an Indian time zone warranting additional costs, and not in a contrary situation, did not amuse the leaders of industry here. The broadcaster will have to pay 20% more in the first scenario and no rebate in the opposite case. ICC will endeavor to ensure that the venue will be in a time zone with a four hour difference to IST if relocation is unavoidable.
Disruptions, cancellations and postponements are not unprecedented in the ICC calendar. In 2020, the T20 World Cup could not be held in Australia due to the pandemic and in 2021 the tournament, awarded to India, had to be moved to the United Arab Emirates due to the Covid situation. In the past, matches were played outside Pakistan for security reasons.
The clauses read as follows: “If at any time during the Rights Period, IBC moves an ICC Event which is to take place outside the Indian Sub-Continent (as set out in Schedule 1) to any country of the Indian subcontinent, upon notice being given by IBC to the Licensee (a “Rights Fee Increase Notice”), the amount of Rights Fees allocated to such ICC Event (as set out in paragraph 1.2 above) will be increased by 20% (twenty percent) (a “Duty Fee Increase”) and:
(a) the total Rights Royalty and the corresponding portion(s) of Rights Royalty to which the relevant ICC Event relates, as set out in paragraph 1.2 above, shall be increased by the Increase the Royalty Fee (and the Royalty Royalty allocation as set out in paragraph 1.6 for all ICC events adjusted accordingly);
(b) the Deposit payable under this Agreement shall be increased by the Duty Fee Increase and, to take this into account, the Licensee shall, within ten (10) Business Days of receipt of the Notice of increase duties charge, make an additional payment into the designated account in an amount equal to 5% (five percent) of the increase in the duties charge; and
(c) Licensee must provide an additional Bank Guarantee (unless otherwise agreed with IBC, in the form of a Bank Guarantee separate from the existing Bank Guarantee(s), in accordance with Clauses 7.23, for the amount of the Increased Fee of Rights.
The second clause:
“Without prejudice to its rights to determine all matters relating to the competition format for ICC events (including venue/country) as set out in clause 5.2, IBC will use reasonable endeavors to ensure that each senior men’s event is hosted in the country or countries (if applicable) specified in Appendix 1.
“If it becomes necessary to move a senior men’s event scheduled in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh (as set out in Schedule 1) to another country (the “Alternative Country”) for any reason whatsoever, including force majeure, IBC will use reasonable efforts to select an alternate country in a time zone which, at the time of the relevant ICC event, is no more than four (4) hours behind or ahead of India Standard Time or is the UK, subject to the availability of suitable venues and any geopolitical, sporting or climatic factors affecting or likely to affect the organization of an international tournament of cricket.
“Notwithstanding the foregoing, Licensee acknowledges and agrees that the final determination of any alternate country will be at the sole discretion of IBC.
“The ICC shall not be liable to the Licensee for any cancellation, partial cancellation, postponement, abandonment, relocation or curtailment. The ITT also indicates that the ICC will not be liable in the event of “failure or defect in the transmission of the live stream.”
The ITT recalls the obligations of broadcasters and specifies that there can be no request for reimbursement.
“20.1 Licensee acknowledges and agrees that IBC, ICC, Hosts and their respective officers, agents, employees and associates are under no obligation to purchase or maintain insurance coverage with respect to the risk of cancellation, partial cancellation, postponement, abandonment, relocation or curtailment of any ICC event or part thereof or the failure or default to transmit the live stream.
“20.2 Licensee shall bear the risks set out in Clause 20.1 and shall not be entitled to any refund, reduction or apportionment of fees due to IBC.
“20.3 The Licensee is responsible for taking out and maintaining all insurance cover relating to the risk of cancellation, partial cancellation, postponement, abandonment, relocation or interruption of any ICC Event or part thereof or the failure or defect of transmission of the Live Feed. For the avoidance of doubt, however, Licensee is under no obligation to purchase or maintain any such insurance coverage.”
An industry official said: “Basically they will try to keep it within a four hour time zone of India. No other adjustments or insurance or anything. The licensee is on the hook, they (ICC) are not,” says an Indian broadcast official.
The ICC said, “These are confidential ITT matters and we cannot comment on them.” The ICC launched an India-specific tender for the 2024-31 round and said bids would be decided in the second week of September.