Though the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Lodha committee report on Monday is set to fundamentally change the BCCI, its officials must have heaved a sigh of relief as far as a major commercial aspect is concerned.
The Lodha panel had recommended the barring of advertisements between overs to allow fans to watch games without interruptions, although this would have led to huge revenue losses.
“We make it clear that we have not expressed any opinion in this regard and leave it for the BCCI to examine the matter from all possible angles and take a considered decision having regard to the recommendations made by the (Justice RM Lodha) Committee,” reads the Apex court verdict.
The court has also left it to the BCCI to study the feasibility of making any changes in the current TV rights contracts.
In the last five years, the BCCI’s TV rights revenue has touched Rs 6700 crore.
It was estimated that BCCI would suffer a loss about Rs 1600 crore a year if Lodha panel’s recommendations to curb advertisements was implemented.
During the proceedings, Chief Justice of India, TS Thakur, had criticised excessive advertisements during live telecast of international games.
“The popularity of the game depends on the number of such people watching. Your (BCCI) earning is depending on them. Their interest has to be protected,” Justice Thakur had said.
But the bench in its verdict observed: “It is difficult for us in these proceedings to authoritatively pronounce upon the impact that the current contracts have on the viewers’ ability to enjoy the game without interruption or the financial implication that may arise in case the contracts are modified as recommended by the Committee.”
The Lodha committee had observed that “regardless of the wicket that has fallen, century having been hit or other momentous event, 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”.
Justice Thakur had asked during the proceedings: “Do they (viewers) have a stake in the game or not?”
“There is a person sitting in his drawing room on his sofa or chair. He doesn’t purchase a ticket to watch a cricket match. But there is interest. Lodha committee wants to protect that interest,” he had observed.