Seven runs off two balls. The bowler begins the run-up, fingers crossed you move closer to the TV screen. And bam, a commercial break. Nothing can be more frustrating than an ad break stealing the pleasure of that winning boundary, that fallen wicket or that record-breaking run.
The Lodha panel has a remedy — restrict ad breaks to drinks, lunch and tea intervals, as is the practice internationally.
Regardless of momentous events, “… full liberty is granted to maximise the broadcaster’s income by cutting away to a commercial, thereby robbing sport of its most attractive attribute — emotion”, the Supreme Court-appointed panel has said in a 159-page report submitted on Monday.
Led by a former chief justice of India, RM Lodha, the panel has batted for an interruption-free telecast of international games. All contracts for Test and one-day matches should be revised to ensure that advertisements are broadcast only when teams break for drinks, lunch and tea, the report says.
“Commerce has also overtaken the enjoyment of the sport, with advertisements continuing many a time, even after the first ball and again commencing even before the last ball of the over is played, thereby interrupting... proper broadcast of the game,” it says.
The panel also wants entire space on the screen to be dedicated to the game, save for a small sponsor logo or sign.
TV advertisements form a sizable chunk of the BCCI’s revenues. Advertisers paid between Rs 3.5 lakh and Rs 4.5 lakh for a 10-second slot during the IPL last year. A couple of 10-second commercials comfortably fit into an over break.
“We have just received a copy of the report and are studying it. It is not only about TV telecast only, there are lot of other important things we are yet to discuss on Lodha report,” said a BCCI’s TV production committee member.
The report virtually takes a sledgehammer to India’s cricket administration, calling for sweeping changes to the powerful BCCI and state cricket bodies.
Star India, BCCI’s official broadcaster, didn’t respond to HT’s phone calls.
The SC, which will have to ratify the panel’s recommendations, while deciding on the spot-fixing scandal that rocked the cash-rich IPL, had on January 22 asked the panel to suggest changes to make BCCI more transparent.