Tue, Nov 13, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Brouhaha between Cricket Australia, agencies continues


A Sri Lankan newspaper chose a graphic way to illustrate how a media rights dispute between Cricket Australia and the major international news agencies is hurting its coverage of the series.

With its national squad in Brisbane, Australia, for the first Test match against the world's top-ranked team, Sri Lanka's Sunday Times would usually rely on The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse to supply images.

But with the agencies locked out of the match over a dispute involving the terms and conditions of accreditation, the paper carried only a three-column report supplied by the British Broadcasting Corp.

Next to the report, in a space where a match photo would usually go, was a black figure in the shape of a batsman playing a stroke.

"This space is dedicated to what would have been an action picture of the Test match in progress in Brisbane," the caption read. "The black figure is courtesy of Cricket Australia."

The key elements of the dispute are Cricket Australia's insistence on a license fee for photographs of its events, curbs on the distribution of news and images to online publishers and assertion of an intellectual property interest in stories and photos produced by journalists at its events.

The news agencies are refusing to pay the unprecedented license fee.

The AP's associate general counsel, Dave Tomlin, said news agencies did not pay news sources for the right to hear or tell their stories, and do not pay organizers of newsworthy events for the right to cover them.

"When we start doing that, both we and our sources can kiss our credibility goodbye," he said.

A similar dispute between the International Rugby Board and a coalition of the international news agencies and major news organizations that threatened to overshadow the World Cup was resolved only an hour before kickoff of the tournament in September.

On the eve or opening day of the cricket Test last Thursday, Australia's domestic newspaper groups accepted watered-down conditions which did not include having to buy licensing rights.

However, the news agencies were not offered the same conditions and negotiations have continued.

The International Cricket Council has asked for the matter to be resolved quickly, while Sri Lankan cricket authorities have written to their Australian counterparts asking them to settle the situation before the second Test starts on Friday in Hobart.

Result of first Test:

Australia 551/4 declared

Sri Lanka 211 & 300 (99.2 overs)

Australia won by an innings and 40 runs.

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