BCCI wants IPL-7 to be apolitical

BCCI tells Sony not to accept political parties’ ads during event.

IPL Chairman Ranjib Biswal (Centre) during the IPL-7 auction in Bangalore. (IANS)

New Delhi: The BCCI has decided not to accept sponsorships or advertisements from political parties during the telecast of the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL).

The BCCI has conveyed its decision to Multi Screen Media (MSM), the broadcast rights holder of the T20 tournament.

Although the dates of the IPL or the general election haven’t been announced, chances are that the league would begin before the polls.

The IPL Governing Council has tentatively decided that the seventh edition of the IPL would be held between April 9 and June 3 while the general election is likely to start in mid-April. Political parties can advertise on TV channels even after the code of conduct comes into effect, said a former election commissioner.

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MSM telecasts IPL matches on two channels, Sony Max and Sony Six HD. And for the 2014 IPL, matches in India will also be broadcast on Sony Six.

A top BCCI official said the governing council’s decision was “unanimous”.

“The council has decided that no sponsorships or advertisements from any political party would be aired during the IPL. This is because we want to remain neutral and not be perceived to be aligned with any particular party,” a top BCCI official told MAIL TODAY. “Moreover, if you look at the composition of the BCCI, it has leaders from almost all the political parties. There are politicians like Rajeeev Shukla (Congress), Farooq Abdullah (National Conference) and Anurag Thakur (BJP) etc.,” he said.

An observer pointed out that a likely reason for the BCCI’s decision could be that it didn’t want to be seen titling towards any party as it is always uncertain as to which party/coalition would come to power. “It’s better for the BCCI to be neutral, especially as it is already reeling under a heavy tax burden. If it remains neutral, it can hope to approach whichever party forms the government for help in a spate of appeals that the Board has made against the tax levied on it due to ‘commercial income’,” he said.

MSM president (sales) Rohit Gupta confirmed receiving the BCCI message, but said he would talk to the Board if he receives a “concrete proposal” from any political party. “There was a political ban on advertising... But we’ll still try to work [around the BCCI decision]. We don’t have a concrete offer from any political party for the IPL. Once we have a concrete proposal, we will speak to the BCCI,” Gupta told MAIL TODAY.

He hinted that some parties might have approached MSM. “Abhi nahi ... only initial, but no serious discussions. Once they know the election dates they’ll pan out their strategy because IPL is a big-ticket event,” he said.

Gupta said ad rates for the initial IPL matches are Rs 5 lakh per 10 seconds. “The last matches go at a premium and we decide the pricing later on,” he said.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the BCCI decision is a “non- issue” for his party. “I don’t know of the Congress queuing up to sponsor or advertise in IPL event. Since IPL and the BCCI have enough money, I don’t see why they should want further sponsorship/advertisement from political parties,” Singhvi told MAIL TODAY.

BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitaraman said she would have to ascertain the party stand on the issue. However, it is reliably learnt that the BJP plans a big advertising campaign during IPL and is in touch with MSM.

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