Journalists covering World Cup matches at Sabina Park are fuming after being asked to pay up to US$60 a day for a broadband connection.
Most major international venues now offer free internet access to reporters who need to be able to access the web to file reports and keep in touch with their offices. Those that do charge usually levy a nominal fee - for example, the hosts asked for US$6 during the recent Champions Trophy. It was expected that the organisers of the World Cup would offer such a facility as a matter of course.
But Cable & Wireless, an official tournament sponsor, appear to be milking the media box for all it is worth. They have asked for a $50 set-up fee for anyone wanting internet access, and then a weekly fee of between US$99 and US$360 or a monthly fee of US$199 to US$720, depending on the speed of the connection.
The journalists are far from happy at what most see as blatant exploitation, but Cable & Wireless refused to comment when contacted by the Jamaica Observer. It also emerged that although journalists are being asked to pay by the week or month, there will be no service available on non-match days. The fee for a Test match is usually around US$20.
Ryan Patrick, of the influential caribbeancricket.com website, made clear his views and described reporters as being "furious". He continued: "This is grounds for a revolt," he wrote. "Journalists should down tools, refuse to cover the tournament unless this is fixed. Cable & Wireless should be ashamed of itself and the ICC and Local Organising Committee should share the blame for this travesty. Journalists writing about their tournament should be made as comfortable as possible and this includes free internet access in every press box."
"Cable & Wireless have shown themselves to be very short-sighted in the way they have opted to use the media as a cash cow when they, as a tournament sponsor, should be seeking to facilitate the media as best as possible so that there is maximum coverage," Richard Sydenham, the managing editor Bigstarcricket.com and a Reuters contributor, told Cricinfo. "Not do their best to prevent them from doing their job.
"We are being asked to pay about seven times more for wireless internet facilities than at the Champions Trophy in India. They had a great opportunity to regain some credit with their rivals Digicel out of the picture and instead they have scored a tremendous own goal."