PSL broadcast and media rights sale delayed

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The bidding for the broadcast and media rights for the PSL has been delayed by two weeks to the beginning of January, meaning the ninth season of the league will only land a broadcast deal a month before it is due to start. Though bids will be submitted to the PCB, the winner will have to be approved by IPC, the government’s ministry for inter-provincial coordination.

The delay once again highlights the limitations of the current interim PCB administration, which is under a government mandate to only make decisions on day-to-day affairs and organise elections to set up the Board of Governors. Zaka Ashraf, the current PCB head, met with the interim Prime Minister and patron of the PCB in Islamabad earlier in the week and was told once again that organising the elections and managing daily affairs were his priority.

“The Prime Minister/Patron PCB directed PCB that all decisions having financial and contractual implications shall only be taken with the approval of Prime Minister/Patron PCB,” reads a note sent by the IPC to Ashraf after the meeting, and seen by ESPNcricinfo. “Any appointment or awards of rights or contracts of any sort will be violation of the directions of Patron PCB.”

The note ends with another reminder that no progress report has been given by the PCB on the organisation of its elections.

Technical bids for PSL broadcast were due to be submitted by December 22, but after the meeting between the Prime Minister and Ashraf, potential bidders were informed by the PCB that the process would be delayed. The PSL’s broadcast rights have been an important source of revenue for the PCB, fetching USD 24 million for two seasons under the deal just ended. That, in itself, represented a 50% boost on the preceding deal.

It is believed the new deal will be for two seasons, in 2024 and 2025. A number of local sports channels are expected to submit bids and there has been speculation about multiple broadcasters forming a consortium to submit bids. Traditionally, the PSL is broadcast live on multiple channels available for viewing in Pakistan, including PTV (Pakistan Television, the state-run broadcaster).

Though the draft for the ninth season was held last week, a schedule has not yet been finalised for the ninth season. The start of the season is complicated by general nationwide elections in the country from February 8. The tenure for the current administration also ends on February 4. It is likely the season will begin in mid-February and though there had been talk of moving the start to the UAE, it will go ahead in Pakistan.

It is unusual for the state to be directly involved in approving broadcast deals, but it illustrates the administrative limbo the game is in Pakistan at the moment. Because the authority of the administration is so limited, they have been unable to fire the previous team management set-up, but have new personnel in place. Mickey Arthur, the former team director, and Grant Bradburn, the head coach, have been replaced by Mohammad Hafeez in both capacities, but neither of them have been officially ousted by the board. When Ashraf’s tenure ends, and depending on the new government post-elections, it is very likely a new PCB administration will be in place, which may involve yet more upheaval.

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