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December 24, 2012
International news agencies have suspended coverage of Pakistan's cricket tour of India - the first in five years - over the BCCI's decision to bar some of their photo counterparts.
The blackout continued a stand-off with the BCCI that first began during England's Test series in India in November and which shows no signs of being resolved.
News outlets said they would not be filing any text or pictures after the BCCI again refused to accredit the international picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images as well as two Indian agencies. Some news organisations, including ESPNcricinfo, that have depended on these agencies have used the pictures made available on the BCCI website.
The BCCI's stance is based upon the belief that it has a monopolistic right to all commercial revenue from photographic coverage of the games it stages, immediate news coverage apart. Support is coming from behind the scenes from key commercial figures in Cricket Australia.
"It is regrettable that the politically-charged Pakistan tour will be affected by the BCCI's failure to recognise the long-standing importance of photographic news agencies in the flow of sport and news images every day," said the News Media Coalition, which represents a group of media organisations.
International agencies who are members of the coalition, such as AFP, Thomson Reuters and the Associated Press, will halt text and photo coverage.
English newspapers and some websites refused to use images supplied by the BCCI during the England tour and instead used file pictures, cartoons or hurried paintings by the cricket artist Jocelyn Galsworthy.
Great moments in England cricket history, such as the 19 wickets shared by the spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar in the Mumbai Test, have only scant photographic record. Getty Images' Gareth Copley and freelance photographers such as Phil Brown and Graham Morris have a worldwide reputation for the quality of their cricket photos and all were either barred or supported the dispute during the England tour.
"As a direct result of the BCCI stance, great sporting moments from the cricket tours to India are going unrecorded and therefore lost forever. England's games were the hidden series and the Pakistan tour is heading for the same fate," said Andrew Moger, executive director of the NMC.
The World Association of Newspapers is backing the suspension, saying the BCCI was "denying the ability of editors to select from the best of photography for the benefit of readers".
A BCCI spokesman declined to comment but did refer reporters to a statement issued for the England tour, which said there was "no intention to censor or limit bona fide news reporting" and emphasised that news agencies had been accredited.
The photo agencies however had been refused as the BCCI deemed "their primary businesses involved the commercial sale and licensing of images rather than the supply of images to news publications for bona fide editorial purposes".
The BCCI has refused to draw up specific agreements with these photo agencies so that they can cover the tour under new terms and conditions.
Pakistan's tour begins with a Twenty20 fixture in Bangalore on Tuesday.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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