Seeking to tap the potentially lucrative market of cricket updates, the Board of Control for Cricket in India said it would ask all telecom providers to enter into commercial agreements with it for providing scores through SMS, hoping this would generate at least Rs 400 crore annually.
"If telecom companies are offering SMS free, we have no issue. If they are charging for this, then the information is the property of the Board. We should get appropriate share of revenue from it," BCCI vice-president Lalit Modi said.
Modi said that "on any playing day we estimate SMS business in India to generate Rs 20-22 crore and Board expects Rs 8-10 crore a day from it."
With an average 40-45 days of international cricket played in India every year, the Board could get at least over Rs 400 crore from this, Modi said.
Asked about the legal notices the BCCI sent last week to all the telecom companies including Bharti Televentures, Reliance Infocom and Idea, questioning their circulation of cricket scores without its approval, a BCCI counsel said, "We will be constrained to take appropriate legal action and take the matter to logical conclusion."
Responding to the legal notice, Bharti Televentures, which operates its service under the brand name Airtel, cautioned the BCCI from "initiating any adventure litigation" saying "under the guise of doing the business of being an event organiser, your client (BCCI) cannot in effect claim ownership over the game of cricket, and all information about the game."
Bharti's counsel Elizabeth Sheshadri questioned the basis of the legal notice wherein BCCI lawyer Ankur Chawla had said that sending of scores, alerts and updates by service providers through SMS without any agreement is in violation of the interim order delivered by the Madras high court.
The high court had passed an order during the recently-concluded Indo-Pakistan series and a similar violation of SMS rights exclusively granted to a party was brought to the notice of the court, the legal notice said.
Bharti Televenture, in the reply, said the BCCI intended to misuse the judgment, dated February 11, 2006, to create further litigations and confusion in the matter while reminding that it had filed an appeal against the order of the single judge.
The BCCI, the country's richest sports body, has already netted Rs 3354 crore through sale of rights and sponsorship for the next four years.
Modi said recently that the Board expects its profits to grow up to Rs 1500 crore in 2006.