BCCI fined INR 52.24 crore for 'anti-competitive conduct'

4:35 AM ET

ESPNcricinfo staff

The BCCI has been slapped with a fine of INR 52.24 crore by the Competition Commission of India (CCI), the country’s fair trade regulator, for “anticompetitive conduct”. The fine is specifically linked to the board’s broadcast deal for the Indian Premier League (IPL), centred around the BCCI’s assurance to broadcasters that, essentially, they will not allow or support any other domestic Indian T20 competition to emerge as a rival.

According to the CCI, the BCCI has given an assurance to the broadcasters that it “shall not organize, sanction, recognize, or support another professional domestic Indian T20 competition that is competitive to IPL, for a sustained period of ten years.” The CCI deems this to be in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(1) read with Section 4(2)(c) of the Competition Act, 2002.

According to PTI, the CCI, in a 44-page order on Wednesday, directed the BCCI to “cease and desist” from indulging in a manner that contravened these provisions. It said the BCCI couldn’t place “blanket restrictions” on the organisation of professional domestic leagues or events by non-members.

“The assessment of the Commission clearly brings out that the impugned clause in the IPL (Indian Premier League) Media Rights Agreement has been pursued by BCCI consciously to protect the commercial interest of the bidders of broadcasting rights as well as the economic interest of BCCI,” the order said.

However, the CCI added that BCCI will not be stopped from stipulating conditions while laying down the rules for approval of a T20 league. The BCCI, the CCI said, would need to clarify the rules applicable for professional domestic leagues organised by members of the board or by third parties.

“Besides, BCCI shall take all possible measure(s) to ensure that competition is not impeded while preserving the objective of development of cricket in the country,” the order said. The CCI has also asked the BCCI to file a report on its compliance within 60 days.

The contention that the BCCI was a not-for-profit organisation was not a mitigating factor, according to the CCI. Noting that denial of market access is one of the most severe forms of abuse of a dominant position, the CCI didn’t find merit in the argument that there was no instance of refusal to any proposal for conduct of domestic leagues similar to the IPL.

“After assuming monopoly of IPL for a sustained period of ten years by excluding all potential competition, there is no reason for BCCI or anyone to expect a proposal for organisation of a similar league,” the order said.

In February 2013, the CCI penalised the BCCI for an identical sum of money, but that penalty was set aside by the Competition Appellate Tribunal in February 2015. Subsequently, the regulator had directed its investigation arm to probe further.

Those investigations produced a report filed in March 2016 and it was only after taking stock of the report as well as submissions by the board that the CCI passed this latest order. The CCI said the penalty of INR 52.24 crore amounts to roughly 4.48 % of the average of the BCCI’s turnover in the last three financial years. The average turnover of INR 1,164.7 crore is for the financial years 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16.

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Via:: Cricket – ESPN

      

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