Did PTV-ARY Consortium Violate Court Order for PSL Broadcast Rights?

Last week, a consortium of Pakistan Television Network (PTV) and ARY won broadcasting rights of the seventh and the eighth editions of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) after placing the highest bid of $24 million (Rs. 4.35 billion).

It was a landmark deal for Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) as it saw an increase of 50 percent from the last cycle.

As exciting as the development was, it was marred by controversy when a media group raised questions over the bidding process and the partnership between PTV and ARY.

On Monday, Transparency International Pakistan also wrote a letter to the PCB saying it had “received a complaint on the allegation of violation of PPRA Rules 2004, in the award of contract of Media Rights for PSL 2022 and 2023 by PCB and by PTV, to PTV-ARY consortium.”

The allegations questioned not only the integrity of the PCB as an organization but also the transparency of the PTV’s operations. Let’s have a look at all the claims and whether the consortium violated any rules:

Claim 1: Non-Transparent Bidding Process

The News, which is part of the Jang and Geo group, claimed on Friday that they had placed a higher bid in the first phase of the process. However, the PCB authorities ordered rebidding after ARY claimed that their bid was meant for only one year.

The TI Pakistan letter also questioned the PCB’s move saying that clause 1.3 of the bids document had explicitly mentioned that the bids were invited for two years, then why was the rebidding ordered on ARY’s claim.

“This act of the PTV-ARY consortium is also a blatant violation of PPRA Rule nos. 30 (3) and 31 (1) and (2), as bidders PTV-ARY consortium, cannot change its tendered prices after the opening of bids,” the letter said.

The bids document further said that if the reserve price is met or exceeded, the highest bidder shall be awarded the broadcasting rights.

“But PCB defied this preannounced process and did not award the contract to the highest bidder,” it claimed.

Fact: A PCB official who was directly involved in the process told Propakistani that the re-bidding was ordered because none of the bidders had met with the reserve price, which according to the source, was Rs. 3.584 billion.

“It was a transparent process and since the reserve price was not met in the first phase, re-bidding was done,” the source said, adding that Geo Super had quoted Rs. 3.36 billion for two years, while the PTV-ARY consortium had quoted Rs. 2.1 billion.

The source also rejected the claim that Geo Super had raised objections to the process.

“Both parties were given an additional one hour to submit revised bids as they failed to meet the reserved price. Both bidders submitted their bids in sealed envelopes that were open in their presence. During the process, one party out-bid the other, and no party raised any question.”

Claim 2: Favoritism by PTV

The News also claimed that the state-run television had violated a court’s order by entering in partnership with ARY without a public bidding process.

“The state-run television PTV has entered into a partnership with ARY without any competition or inviting bids, which is not only a violation of the LHC verdict but also a perfect example of favoritism. Both the parties partnered for the PSL bids in a non-transparent manner,” The News reported hours after the completion of the bidding process.

The TI Pakistan letter also raised similar objections, saying:

“Why PTV did not bid independently. Who ordered PTV to make a consortium with ARY A Sports?  Why PTV has not invited Open Tenders and without competitive bidding, made JV with ARY? This nexus between PTV and ARY A Sports is unholy collusion and is also a violation of PPRA Rules.”

Fact: We spoke to our sources in PTV and PTV Sports and they clarified that the PTV had invited proposals for a public-private partnership in August 2021:

Claim 3: Violation of Court’s Orders

The media group also claimed that PTV violated a 2011 order of the Lahore High Court (LHC) that barred the state entity from concluding any contract unless it was based on a transparent and competitive bidding process.

“However, the state-run TV in a non-transparent manner formed a consortium to bid for the rights despite a strong protest of the other bidder, Geo Super,” the website claimed.

Fact: The source told us that it was a legal process that followed the court’s order in its true letter and spirit.

“Bid was open for all. No violation in it, proper legal process, as evident from the document shared above,” it added.

More Facts

  • The PTV-ARY consortium won the broadcast rights for PSL 7 and 8 by placing the highest bid of Rs. 4.35 billion for two years.
  • Geo Super entered the race with an offer of Rs. 3.7 billion, the second-highest bid.
  • PCB will take another 15 days to award a contract to the winning party. During this time, its grievances committee will look to address the grievances of other parties, if any.
  • At the time of filing this story, the cricket board had not received any official complaint from Geo Super, or any other party.

In light of the above facts, it can be said that all allegations are incorrect.

  • No conflict of issue why Najam Sethi was chairman of PCB, and also a high level employee of GEO and GEO won the rights.

    Geo must not be happy now :D

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