London: News Media Coalition (NMC), comprising some international and domestic news agencies, on Tuesday criticised the decision of the BCCI "to block attendance by reputable photographic agencies" during England team's cricket tour of India and asked the Board to withdraw it.
The NMC said that reporting on the Test series, which begins in Ahmedabad on November 15, "has been jeopardised" as a result of the move by the Board of Cricket Control for India "to disrupt" coverage of the cricket tour. "If the policy is put on place for the first match on Thursday in Ahmedabad, cricket fans will see far fewer images taken by specialist press photographers in their newspapers, websites, on mobile news services and tablets," the NMC said in a press release.
"The NMC, an international organisation which defends the ability of the press to inform the public with independent news material, has urged the BCCI to withdraw the policy which will hit media coverage, fans and the sponsors involved with teams. Getty Images and Action Images and Indian photographic agencies have been barred by the BCCI for this latest cricket series," it said.
It said other international news organisations, which have been given access to games, were so concerned at the sudden move by the BCCI that they too were considering whether to cover the matches or not. Andrew Moger, Executive Director of the NMC, said, "In our view, the BCCI's move will hit fans and cricket sponsors alike. The BCCI has offered to make its own photographs available but this is no substitute for independent and objective press photography."
"Despite numerous opportunities, the BCCI has yet to explain why it is discriminating against photographic agencies or indeed whether other news sectors will be targetted next. We deplore this move and insult to organisations which have supported cricket worldwide," Moger added. The Associated Press warned it "may be forced to suspend text and photo coverage of England's cricket tour of India because of the new restrictions".
"We are surprised at these terms for photo agencies and remain hopeful that they will be lifted," said Lou Ferrara, AP's managing editor for sports. "AP wants to provide cricket coverage to the world and it is only in the best interest of the organizers to allow that to happen for all news outlets, especially in this rapidly changing media landscape."
Agence France-Presse stated it "strongly believes the right of the media to cover news events without undue restrictions should be protected", adding it hopes "the BCCI will lift its policy so news media and fans can continue to get independent coverage". Thomson Reuters said that it "wishes to advise clients that owing to a dispute over accreditation between the media and the BCCI we are unable to confirm coverage of the England Cricket teams matches in India".
NMC members include Thomson Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, the international photo agency Getty Images, the Press Association, the numerous British titles via the Newspaper Publishers Association, the European Newspaper Publishers' Association (ENPA), the European Publishers Council (EPC), the World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA), among others.