Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson has released details on how the British Olympic Association decided which newspapers were given press passes for next year's games amid ongoing complaints that the regional press is being 'locked-out' of the event.
Some 400 press passes have been allocated for British non-broadcast journalists at London 2012 and only a handful have gone to the regional press.
Robertson said that the BOA had set up a dedicated Media Accreditation Committee made up of representatives from 'a broad spectrum of the written and photographic press'who were 'respected for their knowledge and experience from Olympic Games or understanding of the UK media".
They main factors they took into account were:
- The continuous editorial commitment to Olympic sport throughout the four-year Olympic cycle
- History of attending Olympic Games
- Circulation numbers
- Publication frequency.
Throughout the process the BOA's 'primary purpose'was to ensure allocations were fair given the limited number of accreditations, calimed Robertson.
It comes amid growing calls from politicians and local newspaper editors for the BOA to reassess the system.
Last week Press Gazette revealed that, excluding the Evening Standard, only one newspaper in London had gained accreditation. And yesterday we told how editors in the Home Counties had their press pass applications to cover the rowing and canoe events on their doorstep at Dorney rejected.
While the BOA has declined to give a breakdown of how the press passes have been allocated, Robertson was able to give the following breakdown:
- Journalists (writers/reporters) – 270
- Photographers – 80
- Sport specific journalists – 20
- Sport specific photographers – 20
- Support staff – 8
- Technicians – 12
The Press Association has been appointed by the IOC as the national host news agency, and Robertson said that as part of the agreement it had 'committed to covering every British athlete at the games".
Negotiations are underway to create a pool of 12 regional press journalists to provide shared material from the games.
Robertson confirmed the Newspaper Society will be in touch with regional newspaper groups over the next few months to set up a meeting discussing practical arrangements over how the pool will operate.