Rohit privacy debate: Why not same rules for players’ families who monetise private space?

IPL and Social Media (Image: Collected from IPL and Rohit Sharma’s Twitter and edited)

Rohit Sharma’s tweet, on the intrusiveness of the host broadcaster showing a certain conversation, has stirred a hornet’s nest. The jury is out on the matter – are cricketers entitled to the privacy that Rohit asks for, or do they, by virtue of being public figures and super celebrities, need to relinquish that right, especially when on a field of play? The host broadcaster could, from their side, claim and plead that they have paid billions for the right to film and air each and every moment on the field, whether practice sessions or players during a game. That’s an ongoing debate.

As a media house, RevSportz is constantly aware of the restrictions placed on us by virtue of the rights held by the host broadcaster, and our journalists are always mindful of these. Should these be overstepped, there are penalties imposed on the media and individual journalists. And there are more than a few journalists who have been slapped with such penalties for breaches, where inadvertent or not. Not only the BCCI or the host broadcaster, but even social-media platforms are known to block pages that show content which is copyrighted, in this case by the host broadcaster.

But now comes the issue of entitlement. What happens when a cricketer’s wife is allowed to get away with making vlogs for her social media page with field-of-play and practice videos – strictly a no-no for journalists? What do we say when the said page/pages get thousands of views and social media likes based singularly on such on-field visuals, which in the case of a journalist could result in his/ her accreditation getting revoked? What happens when a cricketer, for his YouTube channel, manages to get another player’s interview, though journalists are denied access because it is tournament time? Aren’t cricketers and their immediate circles functioning as a parallel media in case?


I am a historian and historians work with micro histories to understand larger phenomena. So let’s go back to the vlog of the above-mentioned celebrity wife.  One could argue that a cricketer or his wife, or the YouTube channel or Facebook page they run together are private and not a business, while a media company is. Are we kidding ourselves here? These same YouTube channels run ads and can be commercialised if they generate enough views. If we as ordinary media professionals need to toe the line, so does the cricketer mentioned above. The vlog I mention above is a Bengali vlog, which by virtue of that might have escaped larger scrutiny. Yet that very same vlog has given out pieces of information internal to a certain franchise, and shown to its viewers the areas inside different team hotels that are restricted to the players and their families.

We also get from this particular vlog information on the rules and arrangements that the said franchise has with its players, who might bring families with them during the IPL. Is this not inside information and supposedly confidential? Does the franchise in question note this breach of privacy? Do we know if other players in the said franchise would object if they knew their relatively private spaces, created by their own franchise for their rest and recreation, are being displayed for social media views. If micro history is an indication, then questions need to be asked.

I come back to Rohit and his question of privacy. What if a staff member of the said luxury hotels made the same videos and displayed on social media the separate areas designated by the franchise for its players? He would surely lose his job. If he was on contract to the hotel from a vendor, the vendor would lose its contract with the hotel. If a journalist gained entry to these spaces and filmed them, he would be pulled up and penalised. Then, why does a cricketer and his family enjoy such unfettered privilege? Because a hotel employee is not a privileged individual, because a journalist is not a privileged individual, but a celebrity wife is? Not fair, this immunity. 

I hope the host broadcaster and Indian cricket officials read this, written by a professional who has zero privileges compared to the above. I remember a time when I was in Doha for the FIFA World Cup, and as a super-excited fan, put out a half-minute video-grab of Cristiano Ronaldo on my FB page. Within a half hour, my page was blocked for copyright infringement by the platform. Evidently, my page had been reported by the host broadcaster, and rightly so. It was unblocked only after I deleted the said content. It’s time for FB India and the host broadcaster to ask – why not such penalties for infringement of the broadcaster’s very clear rules?