ig TV DTH deal: BCCI asks Sony to pay Rs 137 crore

The DTH sponsorship rights of Indian Premier League (IPL) is heading for a massive controversy, even before the advent of its second season. Faced with the prospect of a Rs 137-crore loss on account of the on-ground deal with Big TV being called off, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has demanded compensation from Sony Entertainment Television (SET), which holds the rights to broadcast the IPL.

BCCI has asked Sony to convert Bharti Airtel's exclusive on-air Rs 30 crore deal as a presenting sponsor to a consolidated ground and on-air deal. Sony officials are now under pressure to either ensure Airtel also comes on board as IPL's on-ground sponsor or pay IPL Rs 137 crore for the damage that IPL has suffered.

Sony had earlier inked an exclusive Rs 30 crore on-air deal with Bharti Airtel as a presenting sponsor for DTH broadcasts. Big TV, which had picked up ground rights sponsorship, had objected to the Sony-Bharti deal and later terminated the deal. Big TV wanted to be the presenting sponsor for DTH broadcasts as well.

BCCI is blaming Sony for this turn of events. The board has told Sony that it may terminate the broadcaster's IPL rights if the money is not paid up. This is because BCCI feels that it was after Sony's deal with Airtel that Reliance-ADAG walked out of the IPL deal.

Sony, in turn, has opened talks with Bharti Airtel for both on-air and on-ground sponsorship for a consolidated amount of Rs 70 crore. This number is not comparable to Rs 137 crore as the latter figure is for a period of four years.

Sources in Bharti Airtel say that they are not agreeable to the deal and would pick up both options only if the price is attractive. This latest development now places both Sony and BCCI on a sticky wicket on the issue of sponsorships.

All this casts a doubt on whether or not the IPL would be on any MSM India channel this year, a loss that Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, MSM India, said was not quantifiable. Speaking on the sidelines of the FICCI Frames 2009, Dasgupta said that the current market situation had taken a deep hit on IPL, and sponsors didn't have the right kind of monies to invest in the property.