With 100 hours to go, IPL debut a trial by fire?

April 14th, 2008 - 6:44 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) Millions have already been spent. More are likely to 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, sections of both national and international, and TV, on the other, is threatening to rip apart the world’s most lucrative cricket event due to start in less than 100 hours.

Add to that security concerns, lack of ticketing information and disputes on entertainment tax on tickets and lack of information on transport arrangements late in the night after the matches in various cities - all these things put together are making IPL’s debut a trial by fire.

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 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 to chill the IPL bosses and send the franchisees into cold sweat, according to well-informed sources.

Even the print media is annoyed with the restrictions as there are strong curbs on how they will be allowed to use photographs. Most print media outlets have strong web presence and the absence of pictures will be a big a dampener to their coverage.

Said Agence France Presse (AFP) New Delhi bureau chief Barry Parker: 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.

While many cities have started ticket sales, some franchises, including Delhi Daredevils, have not yet started them. In cities like Kolkata (Kolkata Knight Riders), Bangalore (Bangalore Royal Challengers) and Mohali (Punjab Kings XI) sales have started, but the response is said to be very poor.

Security after the match is causing concern in Delhi and Mumbai as the police forces want a greater say in matters.

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.

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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