Why Imran did not respond to Jang Group’s notice — the real story
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan has developed a habit of hurling baseless allegations against the Jang Group, apparently at the behest of angels.
After losing the May 11 election, he had been crying of rigging. First, he accused the judiciary and now the Jang Group of depriving him of an imminent victory, which the angels had assured him.
Last year, when Geo Television Network’s winning the bid of rights of Pakistan vs Sri Lanka cricket tournament series caused sleepless nights for local media and dark hidden forces, Imran came out with so-called allegations that Geo was favoured by Najam Sethi, the then acting chairman of Pakistan Cricket Broad. However, Imran kept a mysterious silence over a similar series rights (Pakistan vs South Africa) awarded to an Indian sports channel in which Zee TV owns 95% of the shares and is headquartered in Mumbai.
Here are some facts for Imran Khan: This was the first time that a Pakistani TV channel had acquired world rights of an international series with the responsibility to produce in High Definition and the venture was only set to upgrade the standards and expertise of a Pakistani company and production resources.
Importantly, Najam Sethi had no role whatsoever in the bids process of the two series rights. The entire process of award of media rights to sports channels was done through Pakistan Cricket Board’s bids committee. Regarding Pakistan Cricket Board’s bids committee that awarded Pakistan-Sri Lanka series rights to Geo Super after transparent and competitive bidding, it is stated that its chairman was none other than Ehsan Mani.
Mani is a former ICC president and has managed ICC’s bundling of commercial rights since 2000. It included media rights for ICC events that valued millions of dollars. He has also successfully managed media rights for West Indies and South Africa and also PCB since 1993. He has been one of Trustee of 15-member Board of Trustees of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital. He also has been Chairman Audit Committee of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital.
Other members of the bids committee included PCB Chief Operating Officer Subhan Ahmed — Masters in Business Administration with 19-year experience in cricket. He has worked with the ICC and wrote the contingency plans for ICC Cricket World Cups in 2003 and 2007; Chief Financial Officer Badar M Khan — Chartered Accountant with pertinent experience of cricket finances and good business practices; Member of PCB’s Governing Board Rafiq Bughio who oversaw and monitored the entire process, and an independent member Justice (R) Shabar Raza Rizvi, former judge who authored the report of Sri Lanka team attack. The whole process was monitored by an independent audit firm Ernst and Young, one of the leading audit firms hired to observe and report on the bid process for transparency.
The bidding committee submitted its recommendations to PCB governing board for approval after finishing their proceedings. This transparent process helped sell media/ broadcasting rights both for South Africa and Sri Lanka at a price more than what it got from the 5-year media rights deal which it had with an India-based sports TV channel for the same South Africa and Sri Lanka series played in Dubai/ Abu Dhabi. In fact, the PCB got around $1 million more from this South Africa and Sri Lanka series as compared to what it got in the last series played against both the countries at the same venues in the UAE.
Geo TV did bid in 2008 for securing media rights for five years, however, these rights were not given to Geo TV, though Ehsan Mani was heading the Bids Committee at that time too. Ten Sports got the contract for 5 years, which expired in 2013. In the case of Pak-SL series, it was the PCB Governing Body which approved the media rights contract and Najam Sethi remained out of this process.
It should be remembered that the Jang Group had issued a notice to Imran Khan for leveling basesless allegations at that time which made Imran angry. Instead of replying to the Jang notice, a hue and cry was made on the pretext of freedom of speech. The Jang Group then sent to Imran all the record showing its clear position and asked him to get the record examined through independent auditors. He should have replied to the notice then so that the Jang Group could move courts to prove his allegations wrong. The Jang Group did not pursue the notice and kept waiting for Imran Khan’s reply till todate. Now Imran had again started leveling the same allegations and Jang Group will have to also pursue its notice. Particular people including Lal Top Wala are following angels’ agenda on a particular channel. Imran Khan has visited that particular channel for five times. The Jang Group has moved courts against this particular channel.
Regarding the bidding process, Imran Khan is informed that the PCB floated a tender for two home series at different venues in the UAE – one against South Africa and the second against Sri Lanka on August 8, 2013. Against which, technical and financial proposals were sought from the interested parties. Two-stage tender process involved opening of financial and technical proposals, of which, the later was to evaluate financial standing, prior sports broadcasting and television production experience, details of company ownership including parent company/ share holdings etc and international distribution plans in case if their bids are successful.
On 30th of August, after careful evaluation, the Bids Committee approved India-based TV channel and Geo TV’s technical proposals and proceeded to the second round of opening the financial proposals. According to the process laid out, the Bids Committee announced reserve price for each series before opening of financial proposals which was not met by either Ten Sports or Geo TV for both series after which both parties were given the opportunity to submit revised offers the next day i.e. August 31, 2013 by 10 a.m. In the second round, Geo TV’s financial offer exceeded the reserved price for Sri Lanka series whereas India-based TV channel retained its original offer which was still lower than the PCB reserve price and not capable of acceptance by any standard and hence Geo TV was declared the successful bidder for Sri Lanka series. On South Africa series, both Geo and India-based sports TV channel could not meet the PCB reserve price and bidding committee decided to award rights to India-based sports TV channel on the basis of comparatively higher offer, though this offer was around $0.8 million, less than the reserve price fixed by the PCB.
The PCB, however, in line with a term of bidding document awarded contract to India-based sports TV channel without further negotiations. However, no one, including Imran Khan, raised any objection for the reasons best known to him.
Importantly, Abdul Rahman Bukhatir had sold 50% stakes in the company (Ten Sports) to India-based Zee TV Network for $57 million in November 2006 with Zee further acquiring further 32.2% stakes against $31 million in February 2010 and finally adding another 12.8% stakes against $13.4 million to take up its stake in the company at 95%. With the completion of 95% of control in Ten Sports by Zee, the corporate headquarters are now based in Mumbai and the entire up-linking operations of channel have now been shifted to Noida in India.
Ten Sports was the rights holder of Pakistan home series during the term 2008-2013 and in this period major changes in its parent company’s shareholding took place. Most television broadcasting agreements done by cricket boards do not allow such changes of corporate/ management controls without prior written consent by the cricket board concerned. In this case, the PCB can clarify whether it actually provided its consent to Ten Sports to continue working as its host broadcaster during the period 2009-2010 when India-based Zee Network gained 95% controlling shares of the company. Imran Khan preferred keeping mum when Indian channel had all the media rights for five years and only woke up when Geo got the rights of only one series.