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India-Australia Cricket Series Reporting Will Be Limited, Following BCCI Restrictions

With the India-Australia series beginning on the 22nd of February, the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s restrictions on media coverage are once again becoming an area of focus. The News Media Coalition, a consortium of International publications, and the BCCI, are at loggerheads over Getty Images, Action Images and two Indian photo agencies not being allowed to provide photos from the Cricket match. Note that many websites rely on news agencies and photo agencies for their Cricket coverage, and the restrictions during the last two series had significantly impacted online coverage of two Cricket tours – India-England and India-Pakistan. Note that Pradeep Mittur has just joined Getty Images as its Head for APAC, and the Indian market is a part of his mandate.

The Australian Press has joined in now, saying that because of the BCCI’s restrictions on photo agencies and photo-only agencies (Getty key among them), they are going to provide only limited text coverage.

Apart from this, STAR is claiming that Cricket scores are the BCCI’s property, licensed to them, and if that goes through, it will directly impact SMS updates of scores, and perhaps the showcasing of scorecards and live online commentary.

Note that the BCCI is not preventing news reportage of matches, and only is limiting access to photo agencies. However, news agencies and newspapers are either not covering, or limiting their coverage, in protest. Do read the BCCI’s response to a similar situation during the India-England series.

The report from the News Media Coalition states that the BCCI has not sought meetings with the news industry to seek ways of resolving the dispute. It adds “While the BCCI has offered its own photographic account of the England and Pakistan games, none of the top online news websites outside of India has carried their images throughout those tours. Newspapers and big news websites such as the BBC decided instead to resort to archive images to illustrate the key performances of players such as Alistair Cook for England and Sachin Tendulkar for India.”

The Telegraph published stick cartoons for the India-England series.

Statements from News Organizations

Fairfax Metro Media editorial director Garry Linnell: “Last time I looked cricket around the globe has been struggling for relevance and legitimacy. If they want to kill the game as a global product and deny Australians the opportunity of seeing their own players, then such short-sighted behaviour will go a long way in achieving such an outcome.” …and “It’s also a complete rejection of the notion of a free press.”

AAP editor-in-chief Tony Gillies (told Mumbrella): “The issue is the lock-out of photo agencies and photo only agencies, that from our view just isn’t cricket. We will be joining all media to voice our disapproval and disappointment with that… We are going to cover text but in a limited sort of way. Of course we recognise that there are restrictions that sometimes come with media coverage to protect the sponsorship interest or the commercial interests of the sporting body, but this is just another step too far.”

Australian industry body The Newspaper Works Tony Hale: “The BCCI’s decision is not in the interests of cricket fans, the public or ultimately the great game of cricket. This policy means cricket played between India and Australia on the current tour receives no independent and expert photographic coverage which is so critical to capturing the drama, skill and sheer entertainment of cricket for fans across the world. The industry recognises the BCCI media policy is an attack on the news supply network and there is potential other governing bodies would follow suit unless publishers demonstrate their discontent. Reputable photographic agencies like Getty Images should not be discriminated against and the International Cricket Council should intervene.”

Andrew Moger, Executive Director of the News Media Coalition: “As a direct result of the BCCI stance, great sporting moments from the cricket tours to India are going unrecorded and therefore lost forever. England’s first four games were the hidden series and the Pakistan tour similarly. That’s not good for cricket – nor for the image of India abroad”

The World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA): “All publishers, including those in India are concerned that the BCCI has decided to act against the photographic agency sector which has for years provided images for editorial customers in every country without problem. This is denying the ability of editors to select from the best of photography for the benefit of readers.”

BCCI Increases Fees For Broadcasters

Public broadcast service ABC has decided against following the Australian cricket team’s tour to India in a dispute over charges being imposed cricket authorities there. As other news organisations consider how they will cover the tour, ABC said it could not afford higher broadcast rights fees demanded by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The request from the BCCI for increased fees from broadcasters follows the last minute negotiations with SKY and the BBC for coverage of England’s tour of India. As per the report, last year SKY declined to travel to India and cover the England test after an increase in the broadcaster fees of £500,000 was forced upon them by the BCCI. The BBC, managed to negotiate a settlement, of a reported £50,000 to cover facilities costs in addition to its licensing agreement with the BCCI.

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