The IPL may be quick on the draw when it comes to announcing multi-million dollar deals, but it’s painfully slow to react when someone asks for intervention in recovering a long overdue payment for League-related work.
Virtual Studio, a company specialising in webcasts of events, was awarded the contract to produce live streaming content for the IPL’s official website, www.iplt20.com for the second edition that took place in South Africa in 2009. The Delhi-based company delivered, often having to accommodate last-minute requests and demands, including a five-minute time lag in the streaming, that cost them both in terms of man hours and project heads.
They won the contract for webcasting from TMT Investment Pvt Ltd, based in Singapore, who suggested, for administrative purposes, that all payments would be routed through Net Link Blue, Gurgaon. The total value of the contract was $69,607.84, or Rs 37.5 lakh approximately.
While Virtual Studio received an initial security deposit of Rs 8.7 lakh, they have not seen a rupee since, and Venkatesh Sharma, a director of Virtual Studio, has gone blue in the face trying to get a response from the IPL. “We sent
communications to Lalit Modi, (IPL CEO) Sundar Raman, (BCCI president) Shashank Manohar and others, both by email and to the BCCI’s registered office in Mumbai,” Sharma told HT. “We never got a response.”
Virtual Studio then upped the ante, writing to various governmental agencies, including the Prime Minister’s Office and the offices of the chief ministers of Delhi and Maharashtra. The PMO replied, forwarding the matter to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, but the trail soon grew cold.
“We had up to 20 people working as many as 16 hours a day during that 50-day period of IPL II,” explains Sharma. “We did the job at a very competitive pricing because it was work for the official IPL website. What we feel is that we’ve been cheated in the name of IPL.”
It’s been over a year since IPL II ended, and the rights for the website have since passed on to Global Cricket Ventures, a company that Lalit Modi’s son-in-law Gaurav Burman own 50 per cent of. Virtual Studio have written to GCV repeatedly about the money they owe, but have received no response.
Virtual Studio have plenty of experience in webcasting, having worked with visits of celebrities ranging from Pope John Paul II to Bill Clinton to Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates. They have also worked with a couple of major ICC tournaments.
This might, also, just be the tip of the iceberg and the start of a pattern. There are reportedly other companies who have been contracted or sub-contracted in the name of the IPL and have had payments delayed. And it seems likely, after all, if a League recently valued at $4 billion (Rs. 18,000 cr) cannot ensure that a Rs. 40 lakh bill is paid, then what hope for anyone?