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Panpa Bulletin : May 2010
The PANPA Bulletin | MAY, 2010 | 7 SPORTS RIGHTS SPECIAL FEATURE THE World Association of Newspa- pers has welcomed a unique Austral- ian deal to ensure press freedoms at major sports events. A code of practice has been signed by major newspaper companies and sports administrators, which in part guarantees the future of a free press on digital platforms. Bans on AAP and Getty photogra- phers at Aussie Rules matches have been lifted, and international news agencies can now look forward to returning to covering Test cricket for the first time in two years. A committee, chaired by sports' most senior official in the region, International Olympic Committee member Kevan Gosper, will oversee the Code of Practice for Sports News Reporting. The secretary will be the head of Newspaper Publishers' As- sociation, Mark Hollands. World Association of Newspapers' spokesman, Larry Kilman, said: "This comes after seven years of concern that sports events held in Australia faced more severe restric- tions on coverage than elsewhere in the world." The types of restrictions on news media by various sports bodies in- cluded: Declaration by news agencies of their client lists for vetting Limited number of photographs on the web Restriction on news and score up- dates to a website Ban on publishing to the mobile phone (cricket) Restrictions on use of photographs beyond match reports Ban on sharing/syndicating photog- raphy with other newspapers The code was brokered by the Aus- tralian government minister, Stephen Conroy, who had called in the nation's senior corporate regulator, Graeme Samuel, to get a deal between news- paper publishers and sports. Mr Kilman, a member of football's FIFA Media Committee, continued: "There has been no single govern- ment-backed exploration of the issues in such depth. "It is hoped the code will bring peace and more constructive col- laboration between sports organisers and the media -- both Australian and international media covering events in the country." • • • • • • Agencies, including Agence France- Presse, Getty Images, Thomson Reuters and Associated Press, plus the London-based News Media Coalition, were all involved in the negotiations. Australian, regional and global media achieved a common position throughout the entire negotiation process. Mr Kilman said the code would help other journalists fighting for press freedoms around the world. It would assist their interventions any- where there were similar disputes. Restrictive practices have been imposed internationally by sports administrations overseeing the FIFA World Cup, English Premier League and the German Bundesliga, plus all major American sports. "Sports organisations exchange information in areas of administration, including media accreditation," he said. "Sports organisers will share the Australian lessons widely. Media can cite it in areas where it protects their rights to fully inform the public about newsworthy events." The executive director of the News Media Coalition, Andrew Moger, said sports bodies, including those overseeing rugby in New Zealand and Europe's Six Nations, plus cricket bodies around the world, would take "serious note" of the code. Senator Conroy, as Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, called a Senate in- quiry last April in a bid to end continual arguments between media and sport. The inquiry observed media ac- creditation had been used as a weapon to try to control the amount of journal- ism made available to the public. Media companies believed that in limiting their publishing options, sports administrators were effectively opening up opportunities to create their own, exclusive media channels, especially in the digital realm. The head of corporate affairs at News Ltd, Creina Chapman, said her organisation "welcomes the sensible recognition by sporting bodies of the public's right to access news report- ing of sporting events. "This code means sporting bodies can no longer stop media companies from reporting on events or dictating how the media reports, including what medium we can use," Ms Chap- man said. "As a custodian of their sport, (admin- istrators) have the right to commercially use or sell rights to sporting events, but they do not have the right to handcuff how we report on those events." The editor-in-chief of AAP, Tony Gillies, who had consistently lobbied Senator Conroy directly, said the code was a "great relief". "We can't forget that sports people and media people need each other," he said. "It's in everyone's interests -- par- ticularly the public's interest -- that media and sports bodies do work together." TO get this deal done and prevent what seemed like an unstoppable wave of re- strictions eating away at our accreditation rights season after season, a few prag- matic decisions had to be taken early in the process. While we wanted freedom to publish to any digital platform, we knew de- manding the right to provide TV and ra- dio-style coverage was not realistic. Aus- tralian legislation aroundTV and so-called "siphoning" of sports coverage is complex and hugely political. Effectively, the government put this off limits. Everyone agreed, recognising the additional commercial pressures from both sides would have killed the code be- fore negotiation could start. Newspapers and agencies also recog- nised that TV was an essential commercial component for major sports, and it was never our intention to harm sport. I know three editors who see the in- ability to publish video in competition to TV as a flaw to this code. I understand, but would argue substantial benefits have been achieved, and there was no point in sacrificing them by demanding some- thing we all knew we would not get. for sports rights What... no video? Code heralds new era of press freedom for sports journalism