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Competition watchdog imposes heavy fine on BCCI in IPL rights case

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has been hit with a fine of Rs520m (€6.94m/$8.36m) after being found guilty of breaching competition rules when negotiating rights deals for Twenty20 tournament the Indian Premier League.

The Competition Commission of India has ruled the BCCI abused its position by acceding to broadcasters’ demands that it would not sanction another T20 tournament that could rival the IPL.

The Times of India newspaper said the CCI ordered the BCCI to pay the fine within 60 days. In September, pay-television broadcaster Star India ousted Sony Pictures Networks India as the main rights-holder to the IPL after securing the global television and digital rights to the competition.

Under an agreement with the BCCI, Star agreed to pay Rs164.375bn for all rights packages on offer across five editions of the IPL, from 2018 to 2022. The BCCI had been forced to abort the tender process on a number of occasions but released a fresh invitation to tender on July 21. 

Sony had held domestic television rights to the IPL since its inception in 2008, while Star held digital and overseas rights, aside from in the UK and the US. Both deals expired at the end of the 2017 season, which concluded on May 21.

The CCI made an initial ruling in 2013 that the BCCI’s deal with Sony was illegal due to the clause preventing the governing body from launching another T20 league. At the time, the BCCI won a court order forcing a review of the case.

“BCCI has not provided any justification as to how this self-imposed restriction of not organising, sanctioning, approving or supporting another T20 cricket event that will be competing with IPL, is connected to the interest of cricket,” the CCI said in its ruling.

The commission said that "in the absence of any plausible explanation" it had found that the clause was intended to "enhance the commercial interest of the bidders of broadcasting rights" and the subsequent revenues received by the BCCI.

The CCI also ruled that the BCCI must not place any "blanket restriction" on the organisation of professional leagues to rival the IPL.