Media accreditation row November 13, 2008

Agencies boycott Australia coverage

Cricinfo staff

There were accreditation issues last season as well, when News Ltd journalists were locked out of the Gabba Test © AFP

Leading international news agencies, Reuters, the Associated Press (AP) and Agence France Presse (AFP), are set to boycott coverage of all Cricket Australia events, including next week's first Test between Australia and New Zealand, after a fresh dispute over accreditation terms with the board.

The agencies have said they will not provide coverage of matches, training sessions or commercial events in Australia across any of their text, photographic or TV platforms because of the terms and conditions laid down by CA. The first Test in Brisbane starts next Thursday.

Reuters, AP and AFP are suspending coverage of all CA events, while picture agency Getty Images will only fulfil their commercial obligations and will not provide editorial coverage of the games.

"Reuters is regrettably unable to cover the upcoming cricket events in Australia, following unacceptable accreditation terms for journalists imposed by Cricket Australia," Christoph Pleitgen, global 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." The major issue for the agencies is CA's policy of imposing limits on the number of updates allowed on the internet and further restrictions on distributing material to websites not owned or attached to newspapers or sports magazines.

There are also concerns about some of the terms of the accreditation, which the agencies believe don't safeguard the rights of organisations to criticise or comment. Among them is a general clause that nothing should be written which could bring the game into disrepute.

This isn't the first time the agencies have come into conflict with CA. The same situation occurred during the first Test against Sri Lanka, at Brisbane, last November when the three agencies boycotted coverage of the entire match. Last month, Reuters suspended coverage of Australia's series in India as a result of similar "unacceptable" conditions imposed by the Indian board.

Peter Young, the general manager of public affairs for CA, said negotiations were ongoing but added the majority of media outlets had signed the terms and conditions. "We've reached agreement with 99.9% of the media who cover cricket in Australia," he told Reuters.

"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. In saying that, we're still negotiating in good faith and we hope a common sense and pragmatic solution will be found. You never say never."