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November 7, 2007
Aussie test boycott gets closer

Australia's captain Ricky Ponting speaks to the media during the Captains Call press conference at the Gabba November 7, 2007 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

LONDON, November 7 The threat by three leading international news agencies to boycott the first cricket Test match between Australia and Sri Lanka which gets underway at The Gabba in Brisbane tomorrow is another step closer.

The ultimatum to pull coverage unless restrictions on the media were lifted was taken by members of the New Media Coalition of which AIPS is a member, after the organisers Cricket Australia demanded payment for the right to distribute photographs from the event.

The row is the second major rights dispute to hit international sports organisers in two months following a high-profile clash in the build-up to the rugby World Cup.

The three agencies, Reuters, Associated Press and Agence France-Presse, said the decision by Cricket Australia to control the rights and demand a payment threatened their integrity and that they would boycott the match if the dispute was not resolved.

Cricket Australia has said it owns the right to exploit photographs taken at its games and has asked the agencies to pay to license photos for editorial use.

It has also given guidelines to how the photographs should be used, including restrictions on some Web sites.

Media Accreditation terms for the Australian cricket season require journalists to wear specially-provided vests when covering Cricket Australia events, a move which has been criticised as akin to making the journalists into billboards.

"Reuters regrets this course of action," Monique Villa, managing director of media, said in a statement. "However, press freedom and protecting the news interests and coverage rights of our global clients is of key importance."

Associated Press said it would not give in to the current demands and AFP said it would not pay to report news.

Getty Images said it would fulfil its commercial obligations with Cricket Australia but would not cover any CA events from an editorial perspective.

The row follows the dispute in September between media and the International Rugby Board (IRB) which threatened coverage of the rugby World Cup.

The IRB tried to impose restrictions on media, limiting photos and video on the Internet. This prompted the leading international news agencies and a 40-strong world news media coalition of which AIPS is a member to boycott the build-up to the World Cup.

An agreement was reached hours before the opening match.

To follow this story please click on the following links:

News Media Coalition Statement

Media boycott looms over Test coverage - The Australian

Global news agencies plan Test boycott - Cricinfo

Media outlets in Australia threaten boycott of cricket matches International Herald Tribune

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