Wed, Nov 07, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Media threaten to boycott Australia-Sri Lanka Test

AFP , SYDNEY

Global news agencies said yesterday they may be forced to cancel coverage of the first Australia-Sri Lanka cricket Test after organizers imposed unprecedented restrictions on the media.

They said Cricket Australia's (CA) demand that they surrender all intellectual property rights to their photo coverage of the game raised grave concerns about press freedom, leaving them unable to report on the Test.

The row means the main agencies -- Agence France-Presse, Reuters and The Associated Press -- cannot cover the Test beginning in Brisbane tomorrow, restricting the ability of cricket fans around the world to follow the match.

The agencies are part of a coalition of more than 30 media organizations -- including Getty Images, Australia's News Limited, Fairfax Media and Australian Associated Press -- set up to oppose CA's stance.

CA has insisted it holds the intellectual property rights to agency photographs taken at its venues, and that those photos cannot be re-sold without its permission.

In still-continuing negotiations with CA, the agencies have refused to hand over rights to the photos, saying this would set a dangerous precedent.

They say they will not be able to cover the Test series unless the issue is resolved.

The agencies have rejected a compromise offer from CA under which they would pay a licensing fee for the sale of photographs, saying that would run counter to the fundamental principles of news coverage.

"AFP will not pay to report news," AFP chairman Pierre Louette said.

Cricket Australia said it was acting to protect the media rights that form its core revenue in a changing media landscape.

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