Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) guilty of misusing its dominant position in organising events like the Indian Premier League (IPL) and restricting players from playing competitors leagues. It has in fact fined the BCCI Rs 52 crores.
In an interview to CNBC-TV18’s Malvika Jain, R Prasad, member investigation of the CCI talks about the findings of the commission.
Below is the edited transcript of his interview on CNBC-TV18 with Malvika Jain.
Q: What exactly is it that the commission has found?
A The commission has found that the BCCI is the main body which governs cricket in India. Now, it has started IPL but it has not allowed other players to enter this market that is one. Two, there is duplication in the agreements of broadcasting, which they have entered that they will not allow anybody else to come. So, this shows that people are stopped from entering the market and for this reason it is an abuse or dominance by BCCI.
Q: Did you find any irregularities in the organisation of the IPL per se because there were three specific allegations as far as irregularities in grant of media rights is concerned, grant of franchise rights is concerned and the overall organisation of the event is concerned?
A: All that was considered but again all this will amount to abuse or dominance only. They are dominant players in the cricketing arena and there it has indulged in all these activities. So, that is why there is an abuse or dominance case and that is why it has been penalised.
Q: Are there any specific changes like you had suggested in case of DLF to their agreement with the buyers, have you suggested any changes to BCCI as far as their media agreement is concerned and the franchise agreement is concerned?
A: Normally to have a competition, you must have a short media right. You cannot have a 25 year or 20 year or a 10 year media right because that infringes on competition. So, normally competition authorities all over the world say that three to five years is sufficient to impose competition as far as media rights are concerned because BCCI is a public body. It is a public body and the public are interested in it. So, what is applicable to government will also apply to BCCI. So, if you enter into wrong agreement that becomes anti-competitive.
Q: Basically now you have told BCCI that there should be shorter duration agreements they should enter into with their media partners and they should be reviewed over like two years or three years?
Prasad: Three years, five years because all over the world competition authorities ask the people who run the leagues and give the media rights for 3-5 years..
Q: The CCI's order also says that BCCI restricts players from participating in other leagues and it also impacts the earnings of these players. How did you come to that conclusion?
Prasad: The Indian Cricket League (ICL) was there, BCCI saw to it that those who play in ICL are not eligible for India, which is a restriction. It is a restriction on the players.
Q: Does the commission believe that the Indian cricket players or the ones who participate in the IPL, there should be no restrictions on them?
Prasad: There should be certain restrictions. It is sort of infringement on the freedom of trade of the professional players.
Q: The CCI order also says that there should be a season desist practice that should be adopted by the BCCI. It should separate its regulatory function and that of its commercial events. How is the BCCI expected to implement this? Are there any specific guidelines which the CCI has proposed or would like to suggest to BCCI?
Prasad: This situation has risen because BCCI is also a regulator. It regulates cricket in India. If the regulator starts having commercial practices then there is bound to be conflict of interest. That is why this order has been given. That means the BCCI should approve leagues of different types and it should just regulate the sports that is all.