Sri Lanka Cricket defends broadcast rights deal

Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 17-06-2012

Accusations of misconduct over the award of national TV rights to a new private broadcasting organisation run by the president's sons have been denied by the president of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

Criticism has been raging on the island about the deal, which will see Carlton Sports Network (CSN) air cricket played in Sri Lanka by the national team over the next three years for a fee of SLR 125 million (about US$1 million).

BBC Sinhala, however, has reportedly been told by SLC's president Upali Dharmadasa, that the contract award followed a 'proper tender procedure' which saw CSN come forward as the only bidder following a newspaper advertisement.

"Nothing illegal or unlawful has taken place," Dharmadasa told the BBC. He said the deal was free from political interference adding: "Are we supposed to reject a company because it is an organisation owned by the president's sons?"

Since 1996, state owned Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) has held the rights to broadcast cricket within Sri Lanka.

During the last Cricket World Cup, co-hosted by Sri Lanka along with Bangladesh and India, SLRC earned advertising revenues of over SLR 556 million (about $4.3 million), after paying a reported SLR 143 million ($1.1 million) for the broadcasting rights.

The SLRC told the BBC that the SLC's recent tender for Sri Lankan cricket until 2016 was not seen in the newspaper, and so the corporation failed to make a bid.

"Yes we will certainly lose a considerable income but I wouldn't say we will end up in debt as a result," Mohan Samaranayake, chairman, SLRC is quoted as saying by the BBC.

"We will look into how our marketing and sports departments missed the newspaper advertisement and of course will continue bid for sports rights in future events," he added.