Bangladesh Public Television bought the rights to cover all 66 matches of the 2022 FIFA World Cup for a whopping Tk 98 crore after a late government decision.
BTV acquired the rights to Toma Construction & Co. Ltd after a meeting of the cabinet’s economic affairs committee on November 16, just four days before the start of the World Cup.
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Due to the late initiative, BTV is unlikely to recoup public money through advertisements at a time when the government, as part of austerity measures amid the dollar crisis, has taken measures to reduce expenses.
During the previous edition of the World Cup in Russia in 2018, BTV obtained the live stream from the media licensors for free. BTV had allocated the advertising time to the licensor and had earned an income of about Tk 1.5 crore, said a BTV official preferring anonymity.
“Why did the proposal come at the last hour, depriving BTV of sponsors? Now the money will have to be spent in government coffers,” said a cabinet source who attended the meeting. Questions have also been raised about the amount spent, especially since BTV had gotten it for free before, the source added.
When contacted, BTV Managing Director Sohrab Hossain told the Daily Star on Sunday: “We are going to show all the matches of the Qatar World Cup because we bought it at the price of Tk 98 crore including VAT and taxes. “
He said they got official clearance to buy Toma’s media rights on November 18. Earlier, the BTV as per the recommendations of the finance division wanted to settle the media rights for Tk 54.15 crore which Toma Constructions rejected, according to the documents.
Asked about related subsidies, Hossain said: “It’s not about subsidies. It’s a big event and we have to entertain people. We had an opportunity (to earn money by televising the matches of the World Cup) but we couldn’t take advantage because of a late decision.”
BTV put out a bid for the ad on Nov. 14 but has yet to get a response, he said.
When asked why they didn’t get the rights for free like last time, the BTV DG said: “This time FIFA bindings only allowed buyers to live stream matches of the World Cup. We contacted different companies, but they said they couldn’t provide the media rights for free for anyone this time.”
FIFA distributed the media rights to various licensors in the middle of last year.
Viacom18 India has won all media rights – TV, video, mobile and internet – for the South Asian territory comprising India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan.
Hossain said they sent a letter to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in February this year expressing their desire to televise the World Cup matches, adding that they did not have enough money. or logistics to participate in the international call for tenders.
BTV bought the terrestrial television rights for Bangladesh from Toma Construction after changing hands with Viacom18 India. Selim Raihan, executive director of SANEM, said most people in rural areas depend on BTV to watch World Cup football, which is hugely popular in the country.
“But the question is why BTV has to pay money when they covered the last World Cup for free. Besides, why the initiative came so late when the authority knew well at advance. It was not a wise decision,” Raihan said.
He further added, “If the government had planned ahead, BTV could have purchased the rights at a lower price and generated considerable revenue.”