The BBC will be here after all with its iconic Test Match Special (TMS) programme.
The radio broadcast of the cricket Tests between India and England was in danger of being scuppered over a payment dispute between the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), but it was rescued after a telephone conversation between BCCI president N Srinivasan and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Giles Clarke.
DNA has learnt that the BCCI has agreed to accommodate the ECB chief’s request over TMS and BBC will not have to pay the heavy fee that was reportedly demanded by the Indian board. The BBC wanted an air-conditioned studio and access to the ground besides, of course, telephone connections to broadcast the matches. The BCCI has agreed to provide these facilities at concessional rates. What did the trick for the BBC was the intervention of the chiefs of the two boards.
“We’re happy that we will be there and TMS will continue uninterrupted from the spot,” Jonathan Agnew, former England fast bowler and a member of the commentary panel, told DNA. India’s very own Sunil Gavaskar will also be a commentator as will be his former England rival Geoff Boycott. Noted commentator Henry Blofeld, former England spinner Vic Marks, and India’s Prakash Wakankar complete the panel.
There is no clarity at the moment on how the TMS trouble began, but it is understood that Star India, holder of the global rights to Indian cricket, sold the radio rights to a company in the Middle East with which BBC negotiated. BBC contended that provision for a studio was part of that agreement. However, on Thursday, it agreed to pay the ‘discounted’ price to the BCCI.
It is unlikely that Sky TV, which has also run into trouble with the BCCI over the latter’s reported demand for £500,000, would get a similar concession. “It is too late to meet the requirements of Sky even if they agree to pay the fee,” said a board official. “We have to provide them an air-conditioned studio, a separate control room, uplinking facility. All this doesn’t come free,” he said.