Another continent, but the same story yet again: Global news agencies including Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Reuters and Getty Images have refused to cover the first Cricket Test Match between Australia and New Zealand, citing a now familiar issue – discrimination over Web coverage, reports the AFP. Cricket Australia has demanded the right to choose which of the agencies’ clients can receive photographs and text coverage of the Test Matches, and which of them cannot.
The battle is over Intellectual property rights on the Internet, and echoes what happened in India a few months ago, around the Indian Premier League; Cricket Australia has gone a step further, and, according to the New Zealand Press Association, signalled that it wants to charge Media outlets licence fees to supply content from its venues to commercial websites.
On why this is important, and other instances of issues over rights:
— In November 2006, CA had restricted online video coverage of the Ashes, because rights had been sold to the BBC
— Last year, there was an issue between the News Media Coalition and CA over media rights for the Australia-Sri Lanka test match
— The Indian Premier League, in April, refused to grant accredition to websites including Cricinfo, claimed copyright over all images and imposed restrictions over their usage.
It’s important for digital media companies – particularly publishers and agencies – to track these developments: I do think that as Cricket boards sense more opportunity for monetization via the Internet and mobile, they will begin carving out content rights by media (TV, Web, Print, Mobile) and geography, and offer exclusivity at a price. The Indian Premier League did that. The TV rights are already fetching cricket boards billions of dollars – they won’t mind a few million, or even $50 Million from exclusive portal rights.
P.s.: Wait till the BCCI launches its own TV channel…