ISLAMABAD/LAHORE-Prime Minister Imran Khan has backed the current domestic structure saying if this talent is polished properly, Pakistan team will be the best in the world. 

Imran Khan said this while addressing a signing ceremony between Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Pakistan Television (PTV) and cable operators regarding Pakistan cricket broadcast and cable distribution rights on Wednesday at the PM House. The PM emphasized on professional talent hunting saying Pakistan has plenty of potential in cricket, which needed to be explored and groomed. “In the present system of domestic cricket, you will see that when this talent is polished properly, Pakistan team will be the best in the world,” he said.

The PM said that the collaboration between the PCB and the PTV would cater to the needs of cricket viewers through quality and live broadcast of the matches. “This (PCB-PTV) agreement is a positive step and it will provide lead to PTV in cricket broadcasts. I believe that cricket broadcast will increase PTV’s coverage and quality and it is also important for cricket fans in the country,” he said.  Imran Khan said he had been working for forty years and had decided that he would change the system when he got the authority. “I asked the PCB high-ups to restructure the cricket system as I want to make Pakistan an unbeatable team in the world. I also asked them to increase the competition level of domestic cricket, which will help in producing quality players that will compete well against their international opponents and help the national team win glories globally.” 

Earlier, PM Imran Khan, who is also PCB Patron-in-Chief, witnessed the signing ceremony along with the PCB chairman, PTV chairman, and SAPM on Information Lt Gen (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa. The PCB-PTV deal was inked by PCB Chief Executive Officer Waseem Khan and PTV MD Aamer Manzoor, while the agreement between the PCB and the I-Media Communication Services was signed by Waseem Khan and Director Khalid Mehmood. 

Meanwhile, PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani thanked the PCB Patron, Imran Khan, for his unwavering support to PCB and the efforts of the Minister for Information Shibli Faraz and SAPM on Information Lt Gen (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa not only for their support in getting the broadcasting arrangement finalised but their efforts in modernizing PTV Sports and its production capabilities as well as the digitalizing of cable networks. 

Mani also thanked the Chairman and Board of PTV and the MD PTV as well as the President l-Media Communication and Cable Association of Pakistan for their support and efforts in concluding the agreements. The broadcast agreement is for Pakistan only while PCB will soon be finalizing the grant of its broadcast rights for international territories separately as well as launching a new structure for its digital media rights. 

According to PCB spokesman here on Wednesday, under the arrangement, all Pakistan’s international home series of the senior cricket team as well as women and junior cricket teams will be broadcast live on PTV Sports. Also for the first time, all the major domestic tournaments, including Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, National T20 Cup, One-Day Pakistan Cup and National U-19 One-Day and National U-19 Three Day tournaments, will be broadcast live on PTV Sports and distributed across Pakistan on cable networks. 

The supporting cable distribution agreement, unlike in the past, seeks to ensure that the broadcast content of PCB cricket is not redistributed without proper authorization which was one of the reasons for greatly diminishing the value of PCB content. The matches will be produced by PCB directly to the highest international standards and will not be bulked as part of the broadcasting deal as was done in the past. The PCB will ensure broadcast and distribution of Pakistan cricket across the globe. 

For the first time in almost three decades, the broadcasting rights of Pakistan cricket in Pakistan have been granted exclusively to the national broadcaster. This will maximize the opportunity for cricket fans in Pakistan to watch good competitive cricket almost throughout the year and follow the top cricketers and teams they support in the domestic season. 

The PCB plans to invest Rs15 billion over the next three years on men and women domestic cricket including upgrading of stadiums and infrastructure, building provincial academies and centres of excellence, employment of over 100 former cricketers as coaches and managers for the City Cricket Associations, restarting inter-university cricket, investment in grassroots cricket and improving players’ earning and welfare. 

The broadcast deal also marks the launch of rebuilding PTV’s production and broadcast capabilities, with a conversion of PTV Sports to HD broadcast format already in the pipeline to be followed by acquisition of not only international quality production equipment but also training of its staff during the production by PCB of cricket matches in Pakistan.  It also seeks to create the impetus to expedite the conversion of analogue cable to digital cable in Pakistan which will go a long way in ensuring all cricket fans receive the highest quality and maximum quantity of cricket content on their television screens. Digital cable will allow cricket lovers to select from simultaneously played live matches and not miss any cricket match!