Agencies boycott Australian cricket in accreditation row

International news agencies Reuters, AP and AFP have suspended coverage of cricket matches in Australia after governing body Cricket Australia imposed what the agencies said were “unacceptable” accreditation terms.

The agencies are refusing to distribute text, photos, video from the matches, training sessions and events for the first test match against New Zealand later this month – a boycott that could extend to the South Africa Test match in December if the disagreement cannot be resolved.

The agencies have been unable to agree terms with Cricket Australia and said in a statement that they were unhappy with restrictions defining how newspaper websites can be updated and imposing limits on the number of times text, pictures and data can be updated.

The news organisations also expressed concern about what it said was ‘Cricket Australia’s insistence on veto power’over which websites and non-sports magazines the agencies and newspaper syndication services could serve.

The group claim that Cricket Australia has also imposed a ban on news from the matches being distributed to mobile phones.

Photo agency Getty Images will fulfil its commercial obligations to the Cricket Australia, but will not provide editorial coverage of the matches.

Christoph Pleitgen, the hlobal head of news agency for Thomson Reuters, said: ‘As in previous instances, this decision compromises our ability to report independently and objectively, and comes at the expense of global fans and sponsors.

“We would like to resume our timely, premium coverage as quickly as possible, pending a solution to the current situation. However, freedom of the press and protecting the news interests and coverage rights of our global clients are at the core of both our business and Reuters editorial principles, and these must be upheld.”

The News Media Coalition, set up to protect the editorial freedom of media organisations, has been involved in discussions with Cricket Australia for some months and said that it had been unable to reach reasonable accreditation terms with the body.

A spokesman said: ‘Any decision by news organisations to suspend plans to cover events of public interest is taken with enormous reluctance. It also indicates the degree to which news organisations feel their operations and consumer choice are being challenged.”

Cricket Australia general manager of public affairs Peter Young told Reuters that the organisation was still in negotiations over the media rights and that any decision to suspend coverage of the events would be regrettable.

“We’ve reached agreement with 99.9 per cent of the media who cover cricket in Australia and we’re comfortable that they can distribute information to the rest of the world so no cricket fan will have to miss out on anything if the agencies don’t want to cover it,” he said.

“In saying that, we’re still negotiating in good faith and we hope a commonsense and pragmatic solution will be found. You never say never.”

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