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AIPS, AIPS Europe and the EBU united to defend the right to information
EBU Radio Sports Plenary Meeting was held in Geneva. Photo/EBU
By Jean-Paul Savart, Member AIPS Europe Executive Committee
LYON, November 8, 2012 - European Broadcasting Union (EBU)  Radio Sports experts including around 50 journalists, producers, coordinators, heads of sport from 23 different countries met last month in Geneva to debate the big challenges of covering sports on the radio in a year that has been uncommonly rich in top-tier competitions.

For the first time the EBU invited a representative of a sports journalists' association, AIPS, to discuss about how reporters covering sport events can work properly nowadays. The EBU and AIPS decided to join forces in the fight for the freedom of information.

The annual EBU Radio Sports Plenary Meeting is where the whole EBU Radio Sports community can compare notes and share solutions to issues faced throughout the year.
This year's agenda was shaped by a summer of must-have events, including the UEFA EURO 2012T and the London Games.

The meeting also looked ahead to Brazil, which will host the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2013, the FIFA 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic & Paralympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro.

AIPS was represented by Jean-Paul Savart, a member of the AIPS Europe Executive Committee and Vice-president of the French Sport Writers' Association (UJSF) who explained the mode of operation of national and continental associations of journalists inside the AIPS structure.

He detailed the goals of AIPS, the main one being the defence of the profession of journalists against all violations of the right to information.

The EBU had invited AIPS to participate to its meeting because AIPS had supported Spanish radio stations in their fight against exorbitant financial requirements of the Royal Spanish Football league.

Jean-Paul Savart cited the example of France, which faced the same problems in 2002, and resolved the matter by an act of law -  the "Jean-François Lamour law" which guarantees the freedom of journalists' work in all stadium and sporthalls of France.

It was a nice opportunity for a representative of Spanish radio to thank the  UJSF, AIPS Europe and AIPS for their support during the 2011/2012 season conflict with the LFP and its agent Mediapro regarding their right to report freely the La Liga of football.

*After one year of debate, the Spanish government has finally arbitrated this dispute recognizing the specificities of radio reporting as it is in France.

The two days of EBU discussions in Geneva on 25-26 October, reaffirmed the importance of solidarity and collaboration among radio broadcasters especially in Europe where the economic crisis is severe.It is a difficult period, in particular for public services, to fulfil their mission of information for all when their budgets are more and more restricted.

Most of the sport content providers are journalists and many of them are members of national Sport Journalist Associations. David Naert, vice-chairman of the EBU Radio Sport Group is also president of the Belgian Sports Writers' Association. If the EBU Radio Sport Group is concerned with all matters pertaining to radio coverage of sport events, it,  like sport journalists' associations helps to promote and coordinate cooperation, and to draft policies which enhance and protect its members' interests.

Before their role as TV staff, Radio people, written or electronic press covering sport events, most of those professionals are and remain journalists first. As such, professional unions and associations have to strengthen their ties in order to be taken under advisement by the different "players" in the "Business of Sport". Never forget the roots of those major events (UEFA Euro, Tour de France, etc.) stem from journalists and not pension fund managers.

The EBU and AIPS decided to meet very soon to strengthen their ties and consider joint actions.

*Spanish League problem solved - "no more transmissions from bars, the stands or even a balloon"

María Bretones Merino, journalist, Spain

According to a ruling by the Spanish Telecommunications Commission, and under instructions from the Spanish Government, radio stations are now only required to pay a token amount per game for technical assistance and the use of the clubs facilities.

The case was brought before the commission last July. It has now been established that to pay an amount for royalties would be against the right to information. Initially and transiently the commission ruled an amount of 98 Euros which was then changed to 85 Euros.

Last season the Professional Football League (LFP) demanded each station pay an amount of 456,000 Euros per team (24,000 per day) for the First Division (Liga BBVA) and 252,000 Euros for the Second Division(Liga BBVA), in respect of the use of the cabins .

The resolution puts an end to the conflict that pitted the league last season, as the radio stations, public and private, to which the clubs wanted to charge a fee for access to the stadiums. Hence, for all of last season, retransmissions of football matches were made from the bars, from the stands or even a balloon. "

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