Indian cricket got a major reality check on Monday after the national board scrapped its multi-crore telecast rights deal with Nimbus Communications Ltd due to defaulted payments, a strong sign of cricket overkill and economic slump hitting the game.
The BCCI took the decision at its working committee meeting and decided to encash a bank guarantee provided by the broadcaster. According to a fresh four-year deal Nimbus signed with the board last year, it had to pay Rs 31.5 crore for each home international, be it a Test, One-dayer or Twenty20 game.'Serial offender'
"They have defaulted, they have not made the 50% advance payment for both the England and the Windies series and the BCCI had no choice but to terminate the deal," its vice-president, Rajeev Shukla, was quoted.
The payments issue had reached a breakpoint well before the West Indies series ended. The BCCI had sent a notice to Nimbus on Nov 16. The broadcaster, in its reply, had cited serious financial problems due to poor sponsorship and advertisement response.
"... the last few months have been a tumultuous phase for the economy in general, and the advertising industry in specific," its executive chairman, Harish Thawani, had said in the letter dated Nov 21.
The letter added: "Despite the above pressures on us and our broadcast licencees, we have managed to make most of our payments due to BCCI this year and also made a 50 crore payment (as part payment) for the West Indies tour, 2011. We now humbly request the board to grant us a 45-day grace period for the payment of the balance due (of Rs 74 crore) on the West Indies tour of India. While we will do our best to make this payment on or before 20th of December, we will undertake, at the very worst, to make this payment to you latest by the 30th of Dec 2011."
A BCCI official said Nimbus paid Rs 24 crore before the meeting started but the board was firm, as it was still owed over Rs 80 crore. The tough stand was also influenced, according to some reports, by Neo Cricket's bid to promote the rebel World Hockey Series during the ODI series.