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Panpa Bulletin : Oct-Nov-December 2007
feature Cricket Australia and news organisa- tions have pledged to step up future dialogue in an attempt to head off any repeat of the dramatic accreditation clash which saw journalists and photogra- phers boycotting the first Sri Lankan Test. The row came to an end, as the second test got underway, when CA agreed to im- prove terms of access for all news media, much to the relief of news-gatherers on the ground at Hobart, game administra- tors, players, sponsors and press freedom organisations such as the international News Media Coalition which brokered the arrangements with CA. By that time, widespread global atten- tion had been focussed on CA; not just because of the way that its accreditation terms had threatened free reporting dur- ing the season and undermined publish- ing interests, but also due to the way CA had handled a runaway dispute which dragged in the motivations of Rupert Murdoch, discrimination against cricket- lovers in Sri Lanka and excessive commer- cialisation of sport generally. What might have been viewed within the Melbourne headquarters of CA as being a local difficulty had become a defining moment when the mainstream news media reasserted its needs in con- tinuing to serve the public appetite for topical and independent journalism at a time of changing consumer news habits. At its height, the row had seasoned News Ltd writers and photographers boycott- ing play, international news agencies unable to provide much-sought coverage to clients around the world --- and many behind the scenes calls from politicians to the CA offices. Although digital publishing had moved on since the previous season, CA stuck with its previous approach to restrict- ing content on news websites: despite wanting to stage games full of exciting and newsworthy episodes, websites could only be updated 12 times each day. This contrasted with open policies of FIFA and the IOC towards the free-flow of pictures and reports. That was bound to be challenged by the Australian media houses and the international news agencies, which en- joyed greater freedoms elsewhere. But it was one sentence buried in the CA terms of access which was to ensure that the organisation was to be put under scrutiny by the media owners, copyright lawyers and press freedom organisations 'The applicant and his/her employer agree that all intellectual property rights in Text, Data, Photographs and all other commer- cial rights in respect of the Match are (as between the parties) owned by CA.' Without any balancing express recogni- tion regarding copyright ownership this looked like an assertion driving at the very heart of businesses which cover events. Concerns were further heightened when international agencies which sought the deletion of this clause, were told by CA that they would have to seek a preseason licence for selling pictures --- even if for editorial use. If not that, news organisations could pay for journalist attendance, CA said. Common sense prevailed as the first day of the Hobart test concluded, with repre- sentatives of the News Media Coalition in London bashing out the fine print. To another extent, CA had become embroiled in a far wider debate about how sport and the media can coexist with mutual benefit into the future. Ironically, it was a debate given prominence by PANPA in August when James Sutherland, the CA CEO, attended its annual confer- ence. To his credit Mr Sutherland took up the invitation to attend --- taking to the stage with his batsman's helmet in hand as a prop in case the editors delivered some bouncers. He heard how editors and publishers in numerous countries were becoming increasingly concerned about terms of accreditation which were being imposed by sport but also by organisers of other events of major public interest including fashion, rock concerts and show business. At that time, the News Media Coalition, alongside the World Association of Newspapers, had embarked on long-running negotiations with the International Rugby Board about terms of access for the Rugby World Cup in France just a month away. That too concluded with a satisfactory comparable result with the IRB granting freedom to update web- sites --- and a recognition that the best way to grow media support is to rebuild around the foundations of mutual benefit and goodwill. As with CA, those IRB talks are due to resume imminently. CONNECT Andrew Moger is coordinator of the News Media Coalition, an international group aimed at safeguarding the legitimate ability of the mainstream news media to distribute coverage of events of major interest to the public. email@example.com Media coverage of sport: state of play PANPA Bulletin October-November-December 2007 31 By Andrew Moger News organisations will not be easily dismissed this summer
August September 2007