Monday, November 23, 2009

AP suspends coverage of Australian cricket, again

The Associated Press will suspend coverage of cricket in Australia for the second consecutive international season because of a dispute over conditions for accreditation imposed by Cricket Australia.

The AP was joined by Reuters and Agence France-Presse in a global news coalition that will not cover the three-test series against the West Indies that starts Thursday in Brisbane. The news agencies also refused to cover the 2008-09 series in Australia involving South Africa and New Zealand.

A similar dispute in the 2007-08 season between CA and the three agencies was settled after coverage was suspended for the first test match between Australia and Sri Lanka.

Cricket Australia and news agencies have been discussing the latest accreditation terms for several months.

Cricket Australia has demanded the right to see the agencies' lists of clients and to veto any they decide should not receive pictures and text coverage of the tests. It also wants to impose limits on the number and frequency of text and photo updates for Web sites and on the duration of images in photographic archives.

"Once again, Cricket Australia is standing in the way of full and impartial coverage of a major sports event despite a growing consensus, even in Australia, that sport belongs to the public and not to governing bodies," said Simon Haydon, the AP's International Sports Editor.

Cricket accreditation was among the subjects earlier this year of an Australian Senate inquiry into the reporting of sports, which found in favor of continuing press freedom regardless of which media the news is delivered in. The terms and conditions offered by Cricket Australia for the 2009-10 season were not significantly altered in the wake of the inquiry findings.

The Australian government could consider legislating on the issue if sports administrators and the media cannot find a solution to accreditation issues, however, any moves to introduce laws would be in the longer term.

Peter Young, Cricket Australia's manager for Public Affairs, said Australian cricket fans would have access to the coverage provided by domestic media that accepted side agreements following negotiations on terms and conditions for accreditation for this season.

The AP continues to cover international cricket in the other test-playing nations for its members and subscribers around the world.

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