PCB and PTV solve broadcasting disputes out of court with PMO support
The ongoing litigation between the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Pakistan Television (PTV) has been settled out of court, brokered by Prime Minister Imran Khan's office. It is now expected that both parties will withdraw the litigation. The revenue-sharing model, according to ESPNcricinfo, has also been revised so that PCB can take over 72% of the stake, while PTV will take over 28% of the commercial deals, a major change from the previous 57.5-42.5 deal .
In September last year, the PCB signed a three-year contract with PTV to broadcast home cricket and an agreement with I-Media Communications Services to ensure that the broadcast content of the PCB was not illegally retransmitted by cable network operators. The model could potentially have made them more than $ 200 million, but last month new PCB chairman Ramiz Raja unilaterally suspended the deal with PTV and canceled the I-Media contract to open a new tender for the media rights for Pakistan's upcoming series to open against the West Indies and Australia.
PTV had gone to the Lahore Civil Court to obtain a suspension order against PCB's abrupt move and the two parties had gotten into a legal battle - PCB went to the High Court - and the West Indian series was upon us. The courts adjourned the hearings while the PCB was interested in issuing new tenders and recruiting a new broadcaster; PTV, the state broadcaster, was dissatisfied with this and had a number of conversations with PCB to renegotiate on the grounds that they never broke their agreements or failed to make their payments.
The expected revenues from this transaction would come from advertising revenues and, for the first time in Pakistan, from cable operators 'distribution revenues - the equivalent of broadcasters' subscription revenues - through I-Media. I-Media should ensure that the distribution of cricket content is only through licensed cable operators and that the value of the content is protected from possible illegal distribution. However, the production rights had to be regulated by PCB itself.
The deal with I-Media has now ended due to non-compliance with payments. The Pakistani government has yet to implement the Digital Pakistan Policy, part of which regulates the illegal cable operator business, although it is scheduled to do so within a year.
The broadcasting contract until last year was signed in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic in a shrinking broadcasting market. It ended a longstanding broadcast relationship between the PCB and Ten Sports and there were no potential overseas buyers at the time as the international rights for PCB's home series were sold separately to different channels around the world.
Recently, however, Pakistan has had a few local sports channels to choose from. The ARY Group has launched an HD sports channel called A-Sports, which reports on the T20 World Cup and is currently broadcasting the Lankan Premier League. PTV broadcasts its content in standard definition, but ESPNcricinfo has learned that the state broadcaster will upgrade its broadcast quality to HD within a month.