CSN Broadcast Deal Questioned
By Dinouk Colombage
Human rights lawyer, J. C. Weliamuna, has slammed Sri Lanka Cricket’s decision to award the Carlton Sports Network (CSN) the broadcast rights for cricket in the country for the next three years.
Weliamuna told The Sunday Leader that he believed there was no transparency behind the awarding of the television rights. “Sri Lanka Cricket claims that CSN was the sole bidder for the cricket rights, than why have they not made any of the details of the deal clear?” he questioned.
He suggested that with CSN having close ties to both the Presidential family and the Secretary of SLC there was clearly a great deal of pressure exerted on competing broadcast stations. “CSN stands to earn billions from these broadcast rights for the next three years, however, they have paid in my opinion an amount far below the commercial value,” he said. It is believed that CSN has paid only Rs. 125 million for the rights, while previously Rupavahini had paid Rs. 143 million.
He explained that with the advertising rates, and the amount of cricket which will be played over the next three years in Sri Lanka, he believes that Rupavahini would not intentionally let this opportunity pass them by.
Weliamuna further added that if CSN was the sole bidder then it was the responsibility of SLC to put in place a minimum bid amount to ensure the commercial value is met.
SLC Secretary, Nishantha Ranatunga, explained that he did not have any role with the bidding process as a representative of CSN. “Due to my dual role with both CSN and the Cricket Board I did not have a role to play,” he said.
Asked if a minimum bidding value had been put in place, Ranatunga responded, “to the best of my knowledge I am unaware that any such value had been in place”. He further added that as the Secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket he felt that this deal will be highly beneficial to the Cricket Board and cricket as a whole in the country.
In 2011 Rupavahini broadcasted the cricket World Cup, from which they earned Rs. 550 million. Ranatunga was unable to say what CSN’s revenue target for the next three years was.