MUMBAI: The International Cricket Council (ICC) has sacked its media rights head – broadcast and digital – with immediate effect.
While there’s no official word out yet from the game’s global governing body, the chatter surrounding the senior executive’s exit suggests it has to do with how the radio rights were handled during the 2019 ICC World Cup and recent digital rights deal with social network giant Facebook.
Aarti Dabas, the head of ICC’s media rights, had been associated with the Dubai-based parent body for a decade now and is learnt to have put in her papers this week. TOI understands that ICC’s broadcast rights partner, Star India Pvt Ltd, had conveyed to the former in no uncertain terms their discontent over Facebook being brought on board. The Facebook deal aside, the production of the world feed (radio rights) had stopped right in the middle of the World Cup due to a series of related controversies and stories of non-payment of rights money doing the rounds.
TOI had reported the same on July 13. “The radio rights controversy was an absolute embarrassment for the ICC, the way it played out. There was going to be some introspection. Players from Australia and all over were flown to London and then not given any work because nothing was moving forward,” say sources privy to developments.
Meanwhile, officials at Star and ICC remained unavailable for comment as far as the Facebook deal is concerned. Sources tracking developments said: “Somewhere, matters were bound to fly out of hand. At a time when you have a big media partner on board and when you’re thinking of opening negotiations with your media partner on the future rights cycle, how can it augur well to bring another player into the room?”
As part of a four-year deal, restricted to the Indian sub-continent, Facebook is expected to show post-match recaps and key in-play moments and other “feature content” of the matches. Incidentally, Facebook India’s current vice president and managing director, Ajit Mohan only recently quit Star India’s online platform Hotstar.
Facebook’s entry into the rights cycle directly pit the social media company against Hotstar. “Fireworks were bound to happen,” add sources.