With 100 hours to go, IPL debut a trial by fire?April 14th, 2008 - 9:37 pm ICT by admin
(Lead, with fresh matter)
New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) Millions have already been spent. More will be spent in the next few days. But who gets to show the matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the world’s most lucrative cricket event, or who gets to see them is still not clear. The stand-off, with the IPL management on one side and media — both print and electronic — on the other, has not been resolved yet, though the IPL top brass says that all outstanding issues relating to the media have been sorted out.
The National Broadcasters Association (NBA), a group of broadcasters, is said to be holding meetings on how to deal with this issue and the dreaded word ‘boycott’ has figured often enough.
Agence France Presse (AFP) New Delhi bureau chief Barry Parker told IANS: “We have not seen any official version about IPL’s media accreditation going online again. We have only seen IPL commissioner Lalit Modi’s comments in the media. We are expecting a decision soon.”
The Press Trust of India (PTI) management, which has been holding talks with IPL officials, stated Monday that all issues except one have been resolved.
PTI Executive Editor V. Chandrasekhar told IANS: “We are still in talks and there is only one sticking point, that is selling photographs to dedicated cricket websites. They have assured us that we will not have any other problem regarding other issues.”
But a top IPL official told IANS that the organisers have addressed all issues raised by the news agencies and websites, including those pertaining to the dedicated cricket web-sites.
Sources say some media outlets have gone to the extent of advising their reporters to “black out” IPL coverage. This could increase as the event nears and the franchisees are already worried, though it is not known whether any have spoken to the IPL on the issue.
Things are still not clear on how the non-rights holding media, primarily TV channels, will deal with the coverage, since Sony, the rights holders, are said to be demanding huge sums for even small durations of footage, sometimes as little as three to five minutes. Also things are unclear on how the channels can use archival footage.
The official said IPL had nothing to do with the channels’ problem as they have to work it out with Sony. The right-holders seem to have agreed to the usage of their footage for seven minutes daily.
The championship has also raised security concerns in the cities the matches are being played as nothing has been heard about transport arrangements after the matches late in the night.
Security after the match is causing concern in Delhi and Mumbai as the police forces want a greater say in matters.
Then there is a lack of information on ticket sales and disputes on entertainment tax on tickets. All these things put together are making IPL’s debut a trial by fire.
While many cities have started ticket sales, some franchises have not yet started them. In cities like Delhi (Daredevils), Kolkata (Knight Riders), Bangalore (Royal Challengers) and Mohali (Kings XI Punjab) sales have started, but the response is said to be lukewarm still.
In Kolkata, Shah Rukh Khan’s team is said to be facing a lot of problems in trying to get exemption on entertainment tax. While the franchises are claiming it to be a sport, the state governments are said to be saying that it is also entertainment, as can be seen by the involvement of Bollywood stars and their performances. Other franchises are also likely to encounter the problem over next few days.
On entertainment tax, the West Bengal government is believed to have agreed to charge three percent on the entertainment component of 35 minutes of the 195 minutes’ match duration.
And, finally, even as overseas players are joining their respective teams, there are questions on who will be available for how many matches as Pakistan, Australia, Bangladesh and West Indies are going to be engaged in international Test and ODI series.
Said a knowledgeable observer who did not wish to be identified: “The hype has been terrific, but the problems accompanying it as big. Only time will tell over the next few days how the IPL — and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) whose brainchild it is — will handle it”.
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