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Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games using media to fund operations?

The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Headquarters photographed at the Official Opening on October 22, 2015 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
by Roslyn Morris, AIPS Secretary General

SYDNEY, October 25, 2016 – Journalists who intend to cover the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast will be required to pay 100% of their accommodation costs up front if booking nine rooms or less via the organising committee’s GOLDOC Accommodation Reservation System.

The Press Bookings Request Process was released yesterday via the compulsory GC2018 Press Operations Extranet “Jingeri” which requires all media to have an Outlook account. While media organisations booking 10 rooms or more are required to pay only a 10% deposit upon booking, media organisations and journalists requiring 9 rooms or less are forced to stump up 100%, according to the Accommodation Reservation System Constituent Portal. The ‘accommodation first press request period’ will run from April 1- April 30, 2017, a full year ahead of the Games, set to take place from April 4, – April 15, 2018.
AIPS President Gianni Merlo says the terms laid down by the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) are completely unacceptable.

“Most AIPS members who intend to cover the Commonwealth Games will be looking for single or shared accommodation (a shared room, or an apartment) and would come under the category for 9 rooms or fewer. These are the representatives of the media who are least able to cough up 100% cost of the booking at the time of confirmation,” Merlo said.

“Many of our members are either freelance journalists who do not have access to large amounts to pay upfront, or those who come from second and third world Commonwealth countries where access to such large sums of money is simply not available. Smaller media organisations are also penalised by this thoughtless policy. Why disadvantage those who wish to book less than nine rooms? Are they any less worthy than the larger organisations and agencies?”

“It appears to me that the 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation will bank the money gouged from the media in order to earn interest and fund its operations,” the AIPS President added.

"The fact that the 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation is demanding one hundred percent of the booking cost for those booking less than 9 rooms, which in our opinion would be the majority, leads AIPS to believe that the hard working journalists the Games rely upon to report the news are those who are in fact providing working capital for the Games organisers. This is unacceptable," Merlo said.

"The single journalist booking one room will be required to pay the same dollar amount deposit as the large media organisation booking 10 rooms. The small newsroom booking five rooms will be required to pay five times the amount of a large media organisation booking ten rooms," Merlo said.

"And what of those booking 7, 8 or 9 rooms? Would they not be encouraged to overbook to minimise their deposit and find someone who wants the room at a later date?"

The Cancellation Policy has also come under criticism with cancellations after November 30, 2017 being penalised with a 100% cancellation fee

AIPS hopes that the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation will see some sense by not penalising the media who fall into the category of 9 rooms or less, and let's be honest, we would assume these would be the majority," the AIPS President concluded.

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