Star India, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, has won the rights to broadcast Indian Premier League matches for the next five years, edging out Sony India.

The company bid Rs 16,347 cr for the privilege, edging out other groups such as Discovery. This comes to about Rs 3,250 cr per season and Rs 54 cr per match.

Sony’s bid is supposed to have been much lower. The previous bid, which was won by Sony ten years ago, was $1 billion for ten years.

This means that nearly all the major sporting events in the country will now be available on Star India’s channels, which already broadcast most of the other tournaments.

Warning against such a development, Zee Group had written, via its DTH arm, to the Competition Commission to ensure that Star did not monopolise cricket broadcast rights in the country.

In a letter dated 21 August, the Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd-owned Dish TV said that Star is a potential bidder in the upcoming auction and will thereby attain “the status of sole holder of the telecast rights of all the major cricketing events,” which is anti-competitive and anti-consumer.

The letter was also marked to the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

Star already owns rights to all BCCI-organized cricket matches held between 2012 and 2018, in addition to the rights for the bilateral series of the cricket boards of Australia, England and Bangladesh.

The broadcaster also holds global media rights for Asia Cup and all events organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

“A perusal of the recent developments in the broadcasting sector would reveal that Star is systematically moving towards elimination of competition and creation of monopoly in the cricket telecast segment. They intend to exploit their monopoly status for maximising their subscription and advertisement revenue at the cost of consumers,” said Jawahar Goel, chairman and managing director at Dish TV, in the letter.

The move, more or less means that every sports fan will have to subscribe to Star’s channels.

Others like Sony — which also has a tie-up with ESPN — and Discovery have strong international sports content, but are lacking when it comes to having rights over most of the top Indian events.

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