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Panpa Bulletin : March 2007
PANPA Bulletin March 2007 11 news Sports Constraints Newspaper publishers are expressing alarm about the tougher and more restrictive accreditation rules and other constraints that sporting organisa- tions are applying to coverage of regular fixtures and major events. Increasingly limited access for photog- raphers and restrictions on how "approved material" can be used editorially are threat- ening press freedom and the right of news organisations to report public events. In Australia, in a move thought to be unprecedented in global sport, photogra- phers from international news agencies like Getty Images, Reuters, AFP and AP have been locked out of AFL games for the 2007 season. With their photographers refused access to games --- "in the interest of protect- ing AFL copyright", the agencies, if they wish to offer a service to clients --- must now purchase pictures selected for release through AFL Photos, the officially appoint- ed in-house publisher and photographer, Geoffrey Slattery Publishing. While all the major media organisa- tions in Australia, including AAP, have been given accreditation, AAP is not allowed to sell photographs to websites, books or magazines. The international picture agencies are also fighting restrictions proposed for this year's Rugby World cup in France. The International Rugby Board in- tends to limit publication of World Cup photos through the internet --- including thousands of newspaper websites --- to a maximum of five still photos per half, and two photos of extra time. Details of the Australian and Rugby Board restrictions emerged, coincidentally, as members of the Australian section of the Commonwealth Press Union were being warned by its chairman, Warren Beeby, of the "alarming trend" in sport reporting. It was a trend that is developing, he said, just as newspaper companies were "in- creasingly directing manpower and funds into the development of their websites to ensure they are part of the future of elec- tronic journalism". Addressing the Australian section's annual meeting, Beeby, who is editorial manager of News Limited, said nearly all sporting bodies striving to maximise income streams were selling exclusive web and mobile phone rights to sponsor companies, and excluding other website operators from utilising the full range of available reporting devices. "Some sites are also selling 'official' pho- tographic rights with the apparent intention of eventually excluding newspaper photog- rapher from games so that only approved pictures will be issued for publication." Beeby said that this problem had come to a head this summer when Cricket Australia had attempted to prevent newspa- per websites from broadcasting any video news snippets from games and after-match press conferences. "At one stage, CA threatened to cancel the accreditation of all 15 News Limited reporters and photographers unless the Fox Sports website removed game news video it was broadcasting under 'fair us- age' provisions. "CA eventually backed down after talk- ing its threat to the brink. It is a problem that newspaper companies will have to monitor closely as the football season gets under way." The World Association of Newspapers, which represents 18,000 publications in more than 100 countries, and includes the major news and photographic agencies, is "exploring legal options" open to it over the AFL and IRB moves, claiming the restric- tions breach international conventions and raise questions of editorial integrity. In its letter to the AFL's chief executive, Andrew Demetriou, the association says it is alarmed that, "in the name of maximis- ing the commercial exploitation of events", the league had taken the unprecedented step of turning its back on "the news media which gives life, on a daily basis, to football in all its different manifestations all over the world." "We reserve our rights with regard to our legal options and also see it as our duty to bring to the attention of your sponsors the very clear loss of exposure from which they will suffer owing to the new media accredi- tation policy. "Without media access rights in Australia we are, of course, not in a position to consider coverage of any AFL games played outside of Australia." WAN chief executive Timothy Balding said the AFL's move meant there would no longer be unbiased pictorial reporting --- "merely a form of controlled marketing." "Instead of continuing with the world- wide customary practice of allowing fair and open editorial reporting of sports events, the AFL has granted exclusive pho- tographic coverage and syndication rights to a single, closely related contractor." The association's Director of Communications, Larry Kilman, told the crikey.com.au website that this is not the first time a sport has tried to commercialise its property at the expense of press freedom and diversity. The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) had employed a similar tactic last year. "Among other things, the LPGA at- tempted to force photographers to give the LPGA unlimited, perpetual rights to use their photos free. They backed down when Associated Press and other news agencies refused to cover their events," Kilman told crikey. A UN-sponsored conference in Paris has called for greater protection of the media in Iraq, "the world's worst killing field for media professionals". Held in January, the conference was attended by around 300 journalists, par- liamentarians and government officials including representatives of ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Index on Censorship, the International Federation of Journalists and the World Association of Newspapers (WAN). In a joint declaration, conference par- ticipants called for an end to impunity for crimes committed against journalists and recommended the creation of a national fund to support families of slain journalists. According to Reports Sans Frontiers, at least 93 journalists and 37 media support staffers have been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion in March 2003. UN conference calls for more media protection in "killing elds" By Jack Beverley