IPL facing possible media boycott

The IPL was facing a media boycott after the influential Indian Newspaper Society joined calls for "offending" accreditation conditions to be lifted.

updated: April 17, 2008 18:08 IST
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New Delhi:

The inaugural Indian Premier League was facing a media boycott on Thursday after the influential Indian Newspaper Society joined calls for "offending" accreditation conditions to be lifted.

The Indian media has protested loudly over the IPL's decision to ban websites from covering matches and to prohibit international and local news agencies from supplying photographs to online clients.

"The accreditation terms failed to address the issues of intellectual property rights belonging to media as well as issues of press freedom," INS president Bahubali Shah said in a statement.

"The Indian Newspaper Society hopes a serious attempt will be made by the Indian Premier League to remove offending terms and conditions for media accreditation.

"In the absence of remedial action by the Indian Premier League, members of the Indian Newspaper Society will be forced to take an adverse view on the question of coverage of IPL matches."

The Twenty20 competition, promoted by the Indian cricket board and featuring stars from around the world, opens April 18. The deadline for accreditation was Thursday.

The London-based international News Media Coalition called the accreditation terms "a serious and unprecedented curtailment of the freedom of the press to fully report events of public interest."

The NMC focuses on the threat from excessive controls on the flow of news to the public, and is supported by newspapers, agencies and press freedom bodies around the world.

The Hindu, a leading broadsheet, attacked the IPL's policies in a scathing editorial.

"Greed and arrogance and a total lack of common sense seem to be driving the IPL along a path of confrontation, which will surely bring on a media boycott," the daily predicted.

The IPL tournament lines up eight teams bought by franchises who selected their players via a multi-million dollar auction last month.

The tournament marks the first time that international cricketers will put aside national allegiances to play for privately-owned and city-based teams.

Top cricketers have been offered huge pay packets to take part in the 44-day, 59-match extravaganza across cricket-mad India.

Moves by sports organisers to curb media rights have largely failed in the past.

FIFA tried imposing similar restrictions on photo coverage of the 2006 World Cup but backed down under a threat of a worldwide boycott.

In September last year, organisers of the Rugby World Cup settled at the last minute after a long dispute over media rights.

Two months later, global news agencies boycotted the coverage of the first Test between Sri Lanka and Australia in Brisbane after Cricket Australia imposed similar restrictions.

A compromise was reached after the match to allow the agencies to cover the second Test in Hobart.