Both parties are now expected to withdraw litigation, with a new revenue distribution model mapped out
PTV had gone to Lahore Civil Court to obtain a stay order against PCB’s abrupt move, and the two parties were struck in a legal wrangle – PCB going to the High Court – with the West Indies series around the corner. The courts adjourned the hearings while the PCB was keen to go into fresh bidding and bring in a new broadcaster; PTV, the state broadcaster, was unhappy with this and had a number of meetings to renegotiate with PCB, citing that they had never violated their agreements or defaulted on their payments.
The expected earnings from this deal would come from advertising revenue and also, for the first time in Pakistan, distribution revenue from the cable operators – the equivalent of revenues that broadcasters make from subscriptions – through I-Media. I-Media was meant to ensure that the distribution of cricket content would only be done through licensed cable operators, and the value of the content would be protected against potential illegal distribution. The production rights however had to be regulated by PCB on their own.
The deal with I-Media now stands terminated due to non-compliance on payments. The Pakistan government is yet to implement the Digital Pakistan policy, one part of which regulates the illegal cable operator business, though the plan is to have it done within a year.
The broadcast deal until last year was signed in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic in a shrinking broadcast market. It ended a long-running broadcast relationship between the PCB and Ten Sports, and there were no potential overseas takers at the time as international rights for PCB’s home series were sold separately to various channels around the world.
Recently though, Pakistan has had a few local sports broadcasters to choose from. The ARY Group has launched an HD sports channel, A-Sports, which covered the T20 World Cup and is presently broadcasting the Lankan Premier League. PTV broadcasts its content in standard definition, but ESPNcricinfo has learnt that the state broadcaster is set to upgrade their broadcasting quality to HD within a month.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent