ICC Media Rights Auction Called 'Global Embarrassment' After PwC Exit

The International Cricket Council (ICC), the game’s global governing body, is facing heat from broadcasters after PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PwC) announced they no longer will serve as auditors for the bidding process. The latest development has left ICC on a sticky wicket with demands to shun the current closed bidding and instead opt for the e-auction to sell the rights.

The latest development has been termed as ‘global embarrassment’ for the ICC.

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“How exactly has this process been adopted?” a member of a cricket board was quoted as saying by The Times of India. “Who is responsible for the drafting of this tender document, because this is proving to be a global embarrassment for the ICC? For a body that has lawyers, top corporate leaders and cricketers as member representatives, such embarrassment won’t augur well.”

Another source gave the example of how the Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights were sold via e-auction, ensuring the entire process was transparent.

“Which is the reason the BCCI made sure that the IPL rights would be sold in a manner that no questions would be raised about the process. Ask a broadcaster and they’ll tell you how the IPL was sold at optimum value. But even if it wasn’t sold at optimum value, there’s no way you’re going to debate the processes that were in place,” the source was quoted as saying.

As per the current process, the broadcasters, hoping to buy the media rights. will first have to submit a closed bid and if not satisfied, then an e-auction will be held.

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“When it’s a closed bid, why wouldn’t you put your best number in the envelope? And if you’ve put your best already, what do you have left in the kitty to participate in the e-auction for? Does either make sense or both make sense?” the daily quoted another source as saying.

All four broadcasters – Viacon18, Disney Star, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) and Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) – have independently written to ICC saying they will boycott the bidding if the process is not transparent. They have also assailed the ICC for being mealy-mouthed about explaining the departure of PwC in the middle of the process.

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All technical bids had to be submitted to the ICC on August 22, while August 26 is when the financial bids will be handed over to the governing body. According to sources, the bids were to be submitted at the PWC’s UK office, but now the process will take place in Dubai at the ICC headquarters.

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