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Global media locked out of action at Gabba

By Neena Bhandari, IANS

Sydney : The first Test match between Australia and Sri Lanka began today at the Gabba in Brisbane with representatives of the world’s major international news agencies — Reuters, the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse — locked out.

The agencies say the dispute centres on unprecedented demands by Cricket Australia, including that they hand over rights to all photos taken at matches, AFP reports.

The agencies have all withdrawn coverage after refusing to pay a licensing fee to Cricket Australia.

The row with organisers, Cricket Australia, has also left the country’s largest media organisation, News Limited, unable to report the action.

Concerns have been raised about press freedom given the conditions imposed on photographers and journalists applying for Cricket Australia accreditation.

According to reports here, Cricket Australia 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.

“It is especially unfortunate that fans around the world, in this case in Sri Lanka, are being deprived of their right to see images of their sport and read reports about such a major international event,” AFP chairman Pierre Louette was quoted as saying.

The agencies are part of a News Media Coalition (NMC) made up of more than 30 media organisations set up to oppose sporting bodies controlling the way news is presented.

Communications Minister Helen Coonan told The Australian, “It’s not Australian, and it’s not cricket. We do not want fans to be caught in the middle of this dispute.”