In a letter to the International Cricket Council (ICC), Viacom18 has expressed displeasure over the departure of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as the ‘process auditor’ for the ongoing ICC media rights process.
In the letter written by Viacom18 Sports CEO Anil Jayaraj, it has also asked cricket’s governing body for immediate cancellation of the closed bidding process for first stage while demanding for the adoption of an e-auction process in entirety.
Speculations have been rife in the media that PwC, appointed initially by the ICC, had pulled out of the media rights process mid-way, making the participation broadcasters, including Viacom18, furious.
In June, the ICC released its first Invitation To Tender (ITT) for media rights for the next cycle of ICC events starting in 2024. The ITT is for the Indian market only, with up to six packages available across TV only, digital only or a combination of both.
For the first time ever, ICC said men’s and women’s rights will be sold separately, and prospective partners can bid for 16 Men’s events (over eight years) and six Women’s events (over four years).
Interested parties will be required to submit a bid for the first four years of men’s and women’s events. However, they also have the option of bidding for an eight-year partnership in men’s events, as per the ICC’s FAQ.
“At the outset, we are surprised at this development and the manner in which ICC has handled the same. ICC has chosen to vaguely communicate PwC’s resignation to the bidders by carrying out changes to the process document, without any formal explanation. The least that one expects is that the process for auction of a global event that has the attention of so many people who love the sport be undertaken in a fair and transparent manner.”
“We would request ICC to immediately confirm if PwC will be involved in the process going forward and if not, the firm that will replace PwC. We also request ICC to provide the reasons that led to this development. PWC opting out of bid process at this late stage, only re-affirms the material concerns that we have had all along on the auction process and have raised it with the ICC on several occasion in the last few days. These developments are casting a cloud over the entire bid process which should be avoided,” wrote Jayaraj in his letter to the ICC
In the letter sent to the ICC on Wednesday evening, Jayaraj further wrote, “We are again requesting the IBC/ICC to take strong steps to safeguard the sanctity of the entire process. Specifically, in the interests of complete transparency and fairness, we request IBC to immediately cancel the currently envisaged closed bidding process for first stage and adopt an e-auction process in entirety.”
“The above development has dismayed us so much that in the absence of such transparency as requested, we may be forced to revisit our participation in the process. We strongly urge IBC/ICC to consider the above and adopt e-auction as the sole process for the current bid.”
The technical bids have to be submitted to the ICC by August 22, while the financial bids have to be sent to the governing body on August 26.
(Inputs from IANS)