Agencies can't provide photos to cricket websites April 15, 2008

Curbs stay on Cricinfo in fresh IPL rules

Cricinfo staff

The IPL's media restrictions will result in Cricinfo not having access to images provided by agencies such as AFP and Getty Images © AFP

Editorial operations of cricket websites, including Cricinfo, in covering the Indian Premier League will be severely restricted despite a considerable climbdown by the league on its accreditation guidelines for the print media and news agencies. A revised set of guidelines issued by the IPL on Tuesday offered major concessions to the print media and agencies but barred cricket websites from covering matches from the ground and using pictures that would normally be sold to them by photo agencies.

Instead, Cricinfo, the world's largest cricket website with nearly ten million regular users, will have to buy images from a syndication service that will be provided by the "American company" that has bought the portal rights for the IPL, said Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner. No conditions have been specified yet for this service.

Sambit Bal, the editor of Cricinfo, described the restrictions as discriminatory and unjust. "We are a legitimate cricket media organisation with unmatched global credibility and we are asking no special favours," he said. "We cover cricket with journalistic rigour and integrity. We are being denied our basic rights to cover a cricket event in a professional manner."

However, Bal said Cricinfo's editorial commitment to the tournament would not be affected. "Boycotting the IPL is not an option for us. Our commitment to cover cricket is absolute, as is our obligation to the reader. We are not blind to the significance of the IPL, which could be a seminal event in cricket. We will try to cover every game with the same rigour and depth expected of us."

The News Media Coalition (NMC), the umbrella body that has under its wings global news and photograph agencies Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France Presse and Getty Images, slammed the IPL over its restrictions on cricket websites.

"Loyal and genuine cricket fans will be the victims of the decision by the Indian Premier League to restrict editorial coverage of the tournament on certain websites in an attempt to commercialise news coverage," an NMC release said. "It is an attack on freedom of choice and on press freedom to force controls on the media which mean news pictures of the tournament will not be seen on cricket fans' favourite websites.

"It is ironic and gravely worrying to the media and fans alike that websites which have provided general cricket news to a worldwide fan-base should no longer be able to provide full coverage. Devoted cricket fans should be the full beneficiaries of the same freedom and plurality of the media as anyone else interested in the news and should not be forced away from their choice of websites devoted to cricket. It is a sad day when a sporting body attacks its fans and media partners in this way."

Modi told Cricinfo: "We are not blacking out cricket-specific portals. The American company to which we have sold the portal rights will offer photographs at a reasonable price. I can't reveal the name of the company but everything will be clear in the next 24 hours." Modi said that the IPL was continuing with the BCCI's policy of not giving match-specific accreditation to journalists of cricket websites to protect the official portal's rights.

However, most other grievances of newspapers and news agencies were removed in the final set of guidelines issued on Tuesday evening. The IPL claimed that a "constructive dialogue" with a representative of the Indian Newspaper Spociety (INS) "saw all contentious issues concerning the media accreditation terms and conditions settled amicably." The 44-day Twenty20 tournament starts in Bangalore on April 18.

Loyal and genuine cricket fans will be the victims of the decision by the Indian Premier League to restrict editorial coverage of the tournament on certain websites in an attempt to commercialise news coverageThe News Media Coalition

The Press Trust of India, the country's leading news agency, said they would cover the event "under protest". PTI had previously decided to ignore the tournament if the media guidelines were not modified.

"We have decided to cover the event but under protest," VS Chandrashekar, an executive editor with PTI, told Cricinfo. "We are happy that the IPL has agreed to climb down on some terms and conditions. But we do not want our subscribers to be affected. So we are urging the IPL to remove the ban on supplying photographs to cricket-specific websites."

The Editors Guild of India expressed "an element of unhappiness" over the IPL's ban on news agencies from selling photographs to all subscribers and said they would finalise their stand on the guidelines on Wednesday. "We had specifically made it clear that news agencies should be allowed to sell photographs to all their subscribers, including cricket-related websites," KS Sachidananda Murthy, the secretary of the Guild, told Cricinfo.

The IPL issued the fresh set of guidelines after discussions with representatives of the Indian media over the last 10 days and revised the clause that gives the league the right to demand and use, free of charge, all photographs taken by all those accredited to cover the tournament - the IPL can now use the images only for the "promotion of cricket" and not "commercial purposes". The IPL also offered to revise the limit of photographs that can be used by websites linked to newspapers from six to a "reasonable number". Besides, in case of any breach of rules, the IPL will now "make all reasonable efforts to resolve the dispute" with the "accredited party" before initiating proceedings to withdraw accreditation.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dinesh on April 17, 2008, 2:50 GMT

    Am completely shocked that Cricinfo, THE website for cricket news, scores on the internet, is denied coverage. But its totally expected considering that the BCCI, run by greedy politicians, is running the show. Because of the BCCI, I feel so ambivalent about the IPL. One part of me wants it to be a success because it will be the first professional league in our country. On the other hand, I want it to fail so that it sends a strong message to the BCCI that their powers are not unlimited. It will send a message that they cant ban players for playing in the ICL just for the IPL to be a success.

  • Sudeep on April 17, 2008, 2:03 GMT

    Cricinfo already has a lot to offer. As an avid reader of the site, and a connoisseur of the game, I do not feel too concerned about losing out on anything meaningful, if you guys decide to give IPL a miss. It is thanks to cricinfo that I am able to follow Ranji and Duleep Trophy scores, or read about cricket in Papua New Guinea, or know that Zaheer Abbas was also Syed Kirmani(!) - all this sitting in the United States - BCCI has had absolutely no part to play. By all means, lets go ahead and pretend that IPL is not happening - it does not deserve us. It is about time that someone took a stand.

  • sagnik on April 17, 2008, 1:47 GMT

    possible the website company in question is live current media - - a canadian company hosting some significant websites like etc

  • Jessmon on April 17, 2008, 1:05 GMT

    The BCCI is proving and proving that they are just a business establishment.. Never has they shown any commitment to the game.. Now they have come up to cash in India's 20-20 victory.. they will be a success here too.. but remember, once everybody realizes what bcci is, bodies like ICL will gain ground and cricket world might get split..

    FYI : BCCI is the wealthiest sports body in the world. But it does not have an official website yet. Ice Age thing or what. And how many guys at the top of BCCI know how to play cricket?

  • Sanjiv on April 17, 2008, 0:52 GMT

    IPL should learn a lesson from NHL,NBA and NFL leagues played in North America. All the leagues have franchises and their matches are covered by all the daily news papers,TV Channels (sports) and of course on the internet web sites despite some of the teams having their own TV channels and league's official web sites. I think by resticting media(any type) IPL is shooting in their own foot.More people have access to IPL's match coverage more the chances are it will be successful.They are trying to acheive short term goals by selling rights to certain media agencies and it could be too late before their eyes are opened.Out of billion people their target is to reach a few million...Hmmmmm, it is not a BAD stratergy.

  • naresh on April 17, 2008, 0:51 GMT

    "Cricinfo" you don't need the IPL instead they need you, and I can bet on that. In fact you ought to charge them fees to carry the IPL, they are going to make all the bucks not vice versa. I am sure the majority of those who read at Cricinfo will ignore IPL news, simply because there is nothing partiotic and many don't have enough time to waste when someone else's cash register in ringing.

  • CVV on April 16, 2008, 22:45 GMT

    When Kapil Dev said, "ICL is here for a long time", with great confidence I did not really believe him. I saw no way it could run beside the money stacked IPL. But now I see his point.

  • Sivaram on April 16, 2008, 22:40 GMT

    If cricinfo or for that matter any news agency which has self respect must boycott this event. As someone has said already we need to support ICL than IPL. My humble request to all cricket fans : Please boycott this IPL event where the sole purpose is to make money.

  • Santosh on April 16, 2008, 22:26 GMT

    I think it is time to teach BCCI a lesson. This is the height of corporate greed. I would love it if Cricinfo would completely ignore the event. On the other hand, ICL should be given more coverage.

  • manas on April 16, 2008, 22:22 GMT

    If I am not mistaken, MLB, NFL, FIFA etc are also run like this. IPL is just based on their model. I guess cricket ("gentleman's sport") and pure capitalism don't create a pretty picture :)

  • No featured comments at the moment.