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News agencies boycott Australian cricket

Last updated on: November 14, 2008 10:31 IST

Leading international news agencies including Reuters and the Associated Press have suspended coverage of Cricket Australia matches and events because of a dispute over accreditation terms.

The agencies said they would not provide any coverage of the matches, training sessions or commercial events in Australia across text, pictures or TV due to the terms set by the Australian governing body.

The series begins with the first Test against New Zealand in Brisbane starting later this month.

Reuters, AP and Agence France Presse are suspending coverage of all Cricket Australia events while pictures agency Getty will fulfil their commercial obligations only and will not provide editorial coverage of the matches.

The agencies are opposed to Cricket Australia's policy of imposing limits on the number of updates allowed on the Internet for text, pictures and data and further rules such as limiting distribution to websites not owned or attached to newspapers or sports magazines, such as Yahoo, among other issues.

The agencies also have problems with the terms of the accreditation, saying it does not safeguard the rights for media organisations to editorially criticise or comment on the sport.

"Reuters is regrettably unable to cover the upcoming cricket events in Australia, following unacceptable accreditation terms for journalists imposed by Cricket Australia" said Christoph Pleitgen, Global Head of News Agency for Thomson Reuters.

"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."

The same leading agencies clashed with Cricket Australia last year and the build-up to the rugby World Cup in 2007 was also marred by a media dispute which threatened coverage of the event. It was eventually settled just before the opening match.

Peter Young, the general manager of public affairs for Cricket Australia, told Reuters that his organisation is 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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