Global news agencies boycott Test coverage

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The world’s three leading news agencies have boycotted the first Test between Australia and Sri Lanka due to a dispute over media accreditation with Cricket Australia (CA). A resolution between CA and News Ltd had been agreed in principle shortly before the Test was due to start, but senior management ordered its reporters back to their offices after the deal fell through.

It is believed a radio interview given by a CA official led to the breakdown in negotiations. As the players returned to the field after a rain break the staff left the footpath outside the ground and News Ltd, which publishes papers including the Australian, the Daily Telegraph, the Courier-Mail and Herald Sun, had no plans to cover the match.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press have suspended all coverage of the 2007-08 season after their negotiations failed. The dispute centres around rights to photographs and the amount of text and data allowed to be sent from the ground.

“It is most regrettable that we are unable to provide our usual comprehensive coverage of cricket due to CA’s refusal to extend reasonable accreditation terms to international agencies,” Pierre Louette, the AFP chairman, said. “The accreditation terms imposed by CA make it impossible for news agencies to achieve the impartial and independent coverage that is our core mission.”

Fairfax, which publishes the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, and Australian Associated Press, the national news agency, reached agreement with CA in the lead-up to the match. CA has tightened its regulations with the emergence of new media and its spokesman Peter Young said the organisation believed money made from commercial interests should be shared with the game. “Where cricket generates commercial value, we believe that some of it should be available for investment in the future of cricket,” Young said earlier this week.

The global agencies declined a compromise offer from CA under which they would pay a license fee to resell photographs, arguing such a charge would run counter to the fundamental principles of news coverage. “Among the principles that we will not cede on is that we will not pay to cover news,” Louette said.

The agencies are part of a coalition of more than 30 media organisations set up to oppose CA’s stance and say they will not “allow CA to have control over the way news is presented”. The agencies still hope, however, that the latest dispute can be resolved.

“We are ready to continue negotiations with CA and sincerely hope that we will be able to agree on acceptable conditions that will allow us to resume normal coverage of Cricket Australia events,” Louette said. A similar stand-off occurred in the lead-up to the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, but the International Rugby Board relaxed its regulations after photographers who turned up to a major promotional shoot for a sponsor pointed their cameras at the ground.

Source:Cricket News

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