Viewers get you billions, wrong to deprive them: Lodha to BCCI

  • Pradeep Magazine, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 08, 2016 12:17 IST
The Lodha panel report has taken a strong stand on excessive advertising by the BCCI during India’s matches, saying it unfairly robs the viewers of the key moments. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

In the concluding part, former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha talks about the need to have players’ representatives in administrative roles on the Board, payment disparities in the IPL and players’ association.Excerpts:

Did you feel the need to reserve a certain percentage of posts for players in the administrative set-up?

That we have done. Some of the respondents who appeared before us felt that former cricketers or players’ associations should be a part of the BCCI administrative set-up. We took a reasonable stand that players’ associations and representation through them is enough. Two player representatives in the nine-member apex council makes it about 20%.

How did the three names (Mohinder Amarnath, Diana Edulji and Anil Kumble), who would provide a formal structure to the association, come up?

Randomly. We met all of them. There were two or three options before us. One was to leave it to the BCCI. The other was to leave it to the players at the initial stage to decide who those four-five persons would be to take up the matter with the BCCI and establish the association.

Then we thought it would not work because the BCCI may not do so and the players may not come to a consensus on who would initially form the steering committee. So we met Mohinder, a seasoned person as everyone knows. Kumble, as he had recently retired and Diana (former India captain) because there was no representation of women. The choices were made keeping in mind that they can see everything through.

Read | Ministers kept out as BCCI post not a part-time job: Justice Lodha

One important aspect of your report is the representation given to women, something the Board has been resistant to.

It came from Diana (former India captain). She gave us perspective and we thought there was merit in what she said. We found that whenever Indian women play Test matches abroad, they do well, but there is no recognition. They also have no voice in administration. As judges, we have a fair approach to gender and whatever we can do to give them equal representation. Even the differently abled are a neglected lot. It is not that all men are wise and wisdom flows from them alone. There are women too who are knowledgeable and can give you great ideas.

Players’ agents generally take around 10-15% commission from the income generated through endorsements.

They will be getting two per cent now. We have polished and elaborated certain ideas and added certain things, but most of our recommendations are based on ideas that emerged from responses. They were insightful and informative. We tried to evaluate each and every idea and whether it was workable and to what extent. We did that job but I don’t want to say it is our brainchild. These came from players, journalists, writers, historians and people who follow the game. Ultimately, what we have given is also the voice of the people who matter in the game and those who have invested their time, energy and passion.

Why did you have an ombudsman and ethics officer?

The two roles are entirely different. People don’t have an idea; they feel an ombudsman should handle everything. An ombudsman is known as a dispute redressal authority. With the BCCI having so many disputes with members and players, it used to be dealt with in the executive committee or by the Board president. So they became the judge themselves.

We thought the system needed an independent person who would resolve internal disputes and therefore the necessity for an ombudsman. For the states, we have said there may not be so many cases and you can’t burden them. Even 10 states can decide to share one ombudsman so that there is some independent authority.

You mentioned heartburn among players due to disparity in remuneration in the IPL. Did the players express these feelings?

Two or three past players told us about this disparity. Like equal players not getting the same amount. Besides, we were told that a young player from a modest family gets a lucrative contract and the money that flows in sometimes spoils him. So the feeling and condition of the players we came to know from the players themselves.

The telecast issue was not part of your brief I guess but you’ve talked at length about it and even suggested restriction on advertisements.

In our preamble, we had said that the central element before us is the cricket fan. At an interesting and crucial moment there is an ad before the last ball is bowled. A player is out but you get to know later. So these exciting moments are lost. Now look at it from the point of view that you don’t get a billion-dollar contract from the heaven. It is the viewership which gets you billion dollars. So it is easy to say that we have become a billion-dollar empire but who is bringing in the money? It’s the viewer and if you are not giving him a complete view, you are illegitimately depriving him.

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