Bowing to public demand, the Cable Operators Association of Pakistan has started broadcasting the Indian Premier League after boycotting the first half of the event due to the snub given to the country’s cricketers at the IPL auction.
After none of the 11 Pakistani players up for grabs were bought by the IPL franchises, it sparked angry protests by political leaders and people in the country.
When the league started, some cable operators in Punjab province and other parts of Pakistan did not relay the Indian channel telecasting the IPL matches. But as the tournament progressed, they began relaying it though it was placed towards the end of their list of channels to keep the matter “low profile.”
Sources said this was done as the cable networks anticipated some action against them by the government due to the public outcry over the perceived snub to Pakistani players.
When no action was taken by the federal sports ministry or the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, the cable networks brought the Indian sports channel back to the top of their list this week.
“Bookies are stronger than the government and CAP,” said CAP official Shahzad Khan.
“The boycott was an emotional outburst by CAP president Jabbar Ahmed. It was not possible to ban the telecast of IPL matches, which involved the interest of not only bookies but the masses,” he said.
“My staff received countless calls from across Lahore when we put the Indian channel showing IPL matches (towards the bottom of our list of channels). The viewers want us to place the channel higher on the list so that they do not miss a single match,” Khan told PTI.
“When such public interest was involved, how could CAP even think of boycotting the telecast of the IPL matches,” he added.
According to a senior police official, billions of rupees have been staked on the IPL matches.
“The book is being operated from Dubai and it is not easy to lay a hand on the people involved in this business here,” the official said.
Asad Afridi, a Lahore punter, said: “It has become a profitable business for those who know how to stake money on cricket matches. I spent two years learning this art and I have so far made Rs 500,000 by betting on the IPL matches.”