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700 million people may watch IPL matches

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN,
Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, August 27: An estimated 700 million cricket fans are expected to watch the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) 13th tournament that will be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from next month. Analysts say more people will watch this year’s IPL than in the past.

Due to India-wide lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the IPL matches will be played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in stadia that may be only filled only partially during September 19-November 10. The cash-rich IPL is owned by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

“Ratings will be good. This will be the biggest IPL ever,” declares Vinit Karnik, business head for entertainment, sports and live events, Group M, India’s largest media buying agency.

“Dream11 IPL will be the biggest platform available for marketers during this festive season. With matches beginning half-hour early (at 7:30 pm instead of 8 pm), fewer double headers (two matches a day) and stay-at-home fans anxiously waiting for their favourite cricket tournament, Dream11 IPL will be the most-watched season ever,” declares Gautam Thakar, CEO, Star Sports.

The estimated INR 180-billion Disney Star owns all media rights to the IPL in 2018-2022.

Over 462 million Indians watched IPL 2019. This includes out-of-home viewing at pubs, restaurants and so on, says the Broadcast Audience Research Council.

Based on the growth rate for the last four years and the pandemic-fuelled surge in TV viewership, this edition of the IPL could hit over 530 million viewers. That is just on TV. Disney Star also owns Disney+Hotstar, the second largest OTT in the country.

 IPL 2019 had seen a consolidated viewership of 613 million IPL 2020 should cross 700 million, analysts estimate.

 This is where the speculation begins. Over the two years since it has held the rights, Disney Star has done well on viewership, especially in Indian languages and also on revenue.

About a fourth of the IPL’s viewership comes from the Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bangla audiences. From an estimated INR 15 billion in 2017, when Sony telecast its last IPL, revenues touched INR 30 billion in 2019.

 This year, if Star manages a revenue of INR 33-35 billion, it will have done a fantastic job, point out industry watchers. But it would still not be close to covering its annual outgo and running expenses on the IPL. In 2017, Star committed INR 163.47 billion spread over five years to the IPL “There has been no marquee live sports for a long time. So, at a philosophical level the Dream11 IPL signals a return of life to normalcy,” says Thakar.

 Add to that, pent-up demand. Many brands had held off spending in the last five months. On TV, fresh programming in July has already perked up the ad demand.

 Of the four major sports properties – IPL, Pro-Kabaddi League, Asia Cup and the T-20 World Cup — only one is happening. “In a market where sentiment is low, this (IPL) is a positive. For marketers, it’s a make or break moment in a bad year,” according to Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPL Mediabrands.

 IPL is usually held in April. Many of the advertising deals were signed in March. Some seasonal ones have stayed on board at roughly the same rate of INR 10-11 lakh per 10 seconds. This is a bit over last year’s rates, say buyers. Amazon, PhonePe have signed on and others are close to.

In April IPL has the field to itself. But, in September it will be fighting new seasons of blockbuster TV shows — Kaun Banega Crorepati and Bigg Boss. A late Diwali (November 14) means marketers might defer their spends to the second half of the IPL which ends on November 10. This would coincide with the festival bump. Or they might simply wait out for the next IPL in April 2021. “The advertiser mix and the purse size has changed (gone down),” agrees Karnik.

 The third challenge is how families in homes will enjoy the stadium feel with tech-enabled value addition and innovation. Look at what the Danish soccer league did,” says Karnik. In May, a Danish team’s fans took part in the game through a giant Zoom meeting.

Disney Star is contemplating something similar, say industry insiders. “Usually, the IPL is in eight cities and eight stadiums when played in India.

Now people from anywhere can join in on Zoom. They could do Hotstar watch-along parties or have say six giant LeD screens at the venue with 50 users per screen. In a 40-over match, that’s more than 12,000 users. A vast number of people can be part of the action,” says an analyst.

 And action is something Indians have been thirsting for.

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20A passed at first reading stage amidst protests from SJB

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By Saman Indrajith

 

The 20th Amendment Bill was passed yesterday in Parliament at the first reading stage amidst protests from the SJB.

Justice Minister Ali Sabry presented the Bill to the House.

SJB members who were wearing black armbands and badges with ‘No to 20’ printed on them shouted. They held placards denouncing the 20th Amendment.

 Some SJB MPs were seen coming from their desks to the Well of the House, and then the government MPs too came down and shouted, ‘Yes to 20’.

Serjeant-at-Arms Narendra Fernando and his deputy Kushan Jayaratne were seen standing before the Mace

 Trade Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardane moved a number of Orders under the Special Commodity Levy Act for debate.

Seconding the move, Samurdhi, Household Economy, Micro Finance, Self-Employment, Business Development and Underutilised State Resources Development State Minister Shehan Semasinghe said that the Opposition should have raised their concerns elsewhere.

“They can now go before court and express their concerns. They have one more option. That is to secure a two-third majority in Parliament and defeat the Bill. Without doing any of them they shout here to disrupt sittings and thereby waste public funds. We remember how they behaved when they were in power; they brought in several no-confidence motions. They did so after suspending the Standing Orders of the House. The then Speaker Karu Jayasuriya suspended Standing Orders to allow JVP MP Vijitha Herath to move a motion. We do not act in such undemocratic manner. People have given us a mandate to do away with the 19th Amendment. We act according to that mandate.”

SJB Kegalle District MP Kabir Hashim:

There are two groups in this House. One group ruled this country for 20 years. We were in power for five years.

If they say that they need more powers to develop this country that is a joke.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said the TV camera was not focussed on MP Hashim.

SJB MPs shouted demanding that the camera be focussed on him

MP Hashim:

If this is the manner the government ensuring the rights of MPs before the 20th Amendment, what will happen to us after it becomes law?

MP Hashim:

Have you been able to bring down the price of a single commodity after coming to power? When you came to power in 1994 you promised to abolish the executive presidency, and do away with the open economic policies. You did not do so. Mahinda Rajapaksa too came to power on the same promises. But his government did not honour thems. Today, we are staging this protest to save the powers of the Prime Minister not for our sake. Do you remember the Subha and Yasa story. A palace guard and the king exchanged their places for the fun of it. But the guard did not give back the throne to the king. He remained in the position and even killed the King. The same will happen here when the 20th Amendment is passed.

Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage:

This is a government of the people. We will not do anything against people’s aspirations. We uphold democracy. During the times when you were in the government you did not hold elections. There are many MPs in the opposition today who want to join our government. By this morning there were 17 opposition MPs who wanted to join us. We will get 20 MPs from the Opposition to secure the passage of this Bill. You do not worry about saving the powers of the Prime Minister. We will see to that. You passed the 19th Amendment to prevent the Rajapaksas from coming to power. The Opposition paints a dismal picture of the 20th Amendment. Former Minister Hashim laments about the prices of commodities. Tell me the price of a coconut. Tell me. You cannot because you do not know. You do not know because you are living in luxury away from people.  Today a coconut is Rs 70 in the market. You are not with the people that is why you lost the election.

Industry Minister Wimal Weerawansa raising a point of order said that MPs could not demand that the camera be focussed on them. “Whenever there is a protest in the House, the camera should focus either on the Speaker or the Mace. That is the procedure. It was introduced by the former Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara.”

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa:

We register our opposition and frustration over the 20th Amendment. This amendment has provisions that will erode democratic values.

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Speaker berates opposition for resorting to harangue at question time

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By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday (22) reprimanded the Opposition MPs for wasting the time of the House. He said that MPs should not make speeches when raising questions listed in the Order Paper because only one hour had been allotted for the question time.

He said so when Ratnapura District SJB MP Hesha Withanage raised supplementary questions and made a lengthy speech.

Withanage demanded to know from the Prime Minister the number of Cabinet ministers in governments since 1978.

Responding on behalf of the Prime Minister Chief of the Government Whip Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said that there had been nine parliaments since 1978 and there had been different numbers of Cabinet ministers in those government. He said that the first parliament in 1978 had 25 cabinet ministers and the second parliament in 1989 had 21 cabinet ministers. The third parliament in 1994 had 23 cabinet and 31 deputy ministers with a total of 54. The fourth parliament of 2000 had 42 cabinet and 36 deputy ministers with a total of 78. The Fifth Parliament of 2001 had 25 cabinet, 27 non-cabinet and eight deputy ministers with a total of 60. The sixth parliament of 2004 had 31 cabinet, three non-cabinet and 31 deputy ministers with a total of 65. The seventh parliament of 2010 had 37 cabinet 39 deputy ministers with a total of 76 ministers. The eighth parliament of 2015 had 45 cabinet and 38 state ministers making a total of 87 ministers. The eighth parliament of 2019 had 16 cabinet and 38 state ministers with a total of 54. The ninth parliament of 2020 has 27 cabinet and 40 state ministers with a total of 67.

The first and second parliaments of 1978 and 1989 had one female cabinet minister each. Third parliament of 1994 had three cabinet and five deputy female ministers with a total eight female members. The Fourth parliament of 2000 had four female cabinet ministers. The fifth parliament of 2001 had only one female cabinet minister. The sixth parliament of 2004 had three female cabinet ministers. The seventh parliament of 2010 had two female cabinet ministers and one female deputy minister post making it three female ministers. The eighth parliament of 2015 had a total number of six female ministerial posts – two cabinet, two state and two deputy posts.  The eighth parliament of 2019 had one female cabinet minister. The ninth parliament of 2020 has one female cabinet minister and two female state ministers with a total of three.

The highest percentage of female ministers was in 1994 with 13.04% and the lowest was in 2020 with 3.7 percent, Minister Fernando said.

Responding to the question the percentage of female ministers in the present government, Minister Fernando said it was 3.6. He said the figure was the same as the percentage of female representation in Parliament.

When the time came for the supplementary questions, MP Withanage said that if the funds spent on the number of Cabinet ministers since 1978 had been spent for the development, the country would have been in a better position. Then he lamented that the percentage of female members in parliament did not tally with the population’s female percentage. Thereafter, he said that under the previous government a ceiling on the number of Cabinet ministers had been imposed and the incumbent government was planning to remove it. He asked how the government would justify the proposed increase in the number of ministers.

Speaker Abeywardena intervened and said the MPs could not be allowed to make speeches making use of time allocated for questions. “You should ask only supplementary question. This cannot be permitted. We have to give consideration to the time. We move on to the next item in the order paper.”

S.M. Marikkar raising a point of order said that the government Cabinet, state and deputy ministerial posts to serve their people. The Opposition MPs had only one opportunity and that was by raising the people’s questions. “That is our right. Do not deprive us of our right,” MP Marikkar said.

The Speaker said that his concern too was to ensure the MPs’ rights and for that purpose time had to be managed.

Minister Fernando said that MP Withanage had not raised a single supplementary question and made a speech instead and, therefore, if the latter could raise a specific question the government was ready to answer them.

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20A challenged in SC

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A petition was filed in the Supreme Court by Indika Gallage, a lawyer, yesterday, challenging the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. The petitioner has requested the Court to declare that a referendum and a two-thirds majority in Parliament are needed for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

Gallage has made the Attorney General the respondent. The petition claims that the 20th Amendment to the Constitution violates Articles 01, 03, 04 (d,) 12.1, 14 (1) g, 27 (2) and 27 (3.)

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