Restrictions on coverage of sports events decried

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 - 19:18

Hyderabad: The News Media Coalition (NMC) and
the International Association of Sports Newspapers (IASN)
today strongly decried the restrictions being imposed on the
media over the coverage of sports events and vowed to put up a
united fight against such efforts.

NMC executive director Andrew Moger, who chaired the
session on "Restrictions to Media coverage of Sports events –
And how to fight them" at the ongoing World Newspaper Congress
here, said while sports administrators could not be criticised
for exploring new avenues of revenue, they should apply
themselves to legitimate avenues that do not put at risk
freedom of the press and the right of the public to know.

"A number of sporting federations need to understand that
it is the freedom of the press to write about matters relating
to the sport between competition that sustains public
interest," he said, quoting the head of Press Commission of
the International Olympic Committee Kevan Gosper.

"What works best is that sporting organisations should
stick with the business of running sport and let the media do
their job of reporting and photographing sport," Moger said.

"It is this that sustains public interest," he added.
Referring to the next World Cup of football, Moger said a
dialogue with FIFA illustrated how common sense could prevail,
in most circumstances.

"The current ongoing discussions are not without
difficulties. But relations have been worse," Moger pointed
out.

He expressed hope that FIFA would be as flexible as
possible in time for the World Cup in recognising the
importance of instant news, the importance of news reaching
all platforms and the historical imperative that the events of
the tournament could be picked over and debated over years.

Press Trust of India`s Executive Editor V S Chandrasekar
said the restrictions on sports coverage was a new form of
attempt at ownership of news by non-news organisations.

"Unless this trend is resisted vigorously, there is this
danger of more and vicious restrictions coming in the way of
the readers` unfettered right to know," he cautioned.

Chandrasekar questioned: "What is sport without a reader
or an audience? And, what is a reader without media?"

He recalled how the PTI took the initiative and fought
the restrictions sought to be imposed by the managers of
Indian Premier League cricket tournament on media coverage and
how the latter had to virtually drop all the conditions on
news coverage.

He noted that it was the craze for cricket that made the
BCCI the financial powerhouse of the game globally.

"Unfortunately it has also made BCCI, as well as other
cricket administrators such as Cricket Australia, greedy. The
restrictions on coverage of IPL event was a result of this
greed," the PTI Executive Editor observed.

Chandrasekar asked the NMC to take up take up issues in
relation to cricket coverage with the game`s global governing
body, ICC, when its Executive meets in Dubai.

He summed up stressing: "We need to take a united stand
to face these threats so that the unfettered right of the
reader to know cannot be tampered with. Besides money what is
involved here are our very basic rights."

Kathleen Carroll, Executive Editor and Senior
Vice-President of Associated Press remarked that a day might
come when sports administrators might demand fans to shell out
money for taking pictures even for personal use.

"We have to fight these restrictions out," she asserted.
Meanwhile, a representative of Kyodo, the Japanese news
agency, said they too would join the NMC soon to fight for the
rights of the media.

Xavier Spender, CEO of L`Equipe and Valtteri Niiranen,
Executive Director of the European Newspapers` Publishers
Association (ENPA) and Rosarita Cuccoli, Executive General
Secretary of International Association of Sports Newspapers
(IASN) also spoke.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 - 19:18

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