CCI understood to have found anti-trust law violations by BCCI

CCI understood to have found anti-trust law violations by BCCI

Competition watchdog CCI is understood to have found anti-trust law violations in the way BCCI handed out media rights to World Sports Group and MSM for its cash-rich India Premier League (IPL) event.

After carrying out a probe that spanned about eight months, the Director General (investigations) of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) concluded that BCCI, the game's governing body in India, had abused it dominant market position by allowing "single bidding" of media and television rights for IPL matches.

"The DG has found that there is a contravention of section 4 and 4 (2)(e) in BCCI's handing out of contracts to the two media groups," a source told PTI.

Section 4(2)(e) in the Competition Act, 2002 pertains to violation when a party uses its dominant position in one relevant market to enter into, or protect, other relevant market.

The DG pointed out that the BCCI has used it dominant position in the national cricket arena to influence the bidding procedure in the IPL, one of its own Twenty20 leagues.

The investigation by the CCI was launched after preliminary enquiry showed prima facie evidence of lack of transparency and violation of the provisions of the Competition Act. The matter was referred to the CCI by the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs last year.

The Commission had also studied documents shared by the Income Tax Department.

Last year, the cricket board had scrapped all its IPL media rights agreements with Mauritius-based World Sport Group, claiming that MSM Satellite (Singapore) Pvt Ltd was the rightful owner of all media rights relating to the Twenty20 event.

The BCCI has invalidated all its deals with WSG following revelations that the latter received USD 80 million (Rs 425 crore) as "facilitation fee" from MSM for getting back the Indian sub-continent media rights of IPL in March 2009.

The deals with WSG were scrapped by BCCI after MSM agreed to pay it Rs 300 crore plus the remaining amount of Rs 125 crore, which it has already paid to WSG, after initiating legal action against the Mauritius firm.

A legal case in this regard is at present pending with the Bombay High Court.

The CCI, which became fully functional in May 2009, is empowered by an Act of Parliament to take up cases relating to violation of section 3 and and 4 of the Competition Act. Sections 3 and 4 pertains to anti-competitive agreement and abuse of dominant market position, respectively.