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20 Nov 2008 09:15
Global news agencies have boycotted coverage of the first cricket Test between Australia and New Zealand starting on Thursday because of conditions imposed by organisers.
The agencies—Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Reuters and Getty Images—have also suspended coverage of all Australian cricket news until further notice over demands made by the governing body, Cricket Australia (CA).
“AFP deeply regrets that it is unable to cover the Australian cricket season as planned,” said AFP chairperson and chief executive Pierre Louette.
“This is in particular a pity for the cricket fans around the world who will not be able to follow their sport through the high-quality international news agency photos and news reports they have come to rely on over many decades.”
CA has demanded the right to see the agencies’ lists of web clients and to veto any they decide should not receive pictures and text coverage of the Tests.
In addition, CA refuses to allow agencies to distribute to some legitimate non-sports magazines, a move the agencies say would force them to discriminate between clients.
“At stake is our editorial integrity and the trust that news organisations across the globe have placed in us to supply the news in a fair, balanced and independent fashion for their readers,” Louette said.
“The restrictions that Cricket Australia wishes to impose on us amount to an outside body dictating how and to whom we should distribute news.”
Louette said that AFP, as part of the News Media Coalition of more than 30 media organisations, remained ready to resume discussions with CA on covering the season “without the imposition of unreasonable restrictions”.
Offered the opportunity to comment on the boycott, Cricket Australia spokesperson Peter Young said the organisers were still keen for the agencies to cover the game and were prepared to continue negotiations in good faith.
“The media wants the right to pursue coverage of news on the traditional freedom of media principle and we are concerned to protect our intellectual rights from commercial exploitation.
“The difficulty has been how we can mutually document those two principles,” Young said.
In an unusual move, the national news agency of one of the teams playing in the Test—the New Zealand Press Association—has also refused to agree to CA’s demands and will not send a reporter to the match.
CA had refused to agree to reports from its venues going to “commercial websites” but NZPA was not prepared to break contracts “or to have CA dictate who it can and cannot supply news to”, the agency said in a statement.
“CA has also signalled that it wants to charge media outlets, including NZPA, licence fees to supply content from its venues to commercial websites. This is also unacceptable to NZPA.”
The agency said, however, that it would cover the match “by other means” and would provide timely and comprehensive coverage to all its clients.
Last year, members of the News Media Coalition were locked out of the first Test between Australia and Sri Lanka over a similar media rights dispute with Cricket Australia.—AFP
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