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Coverage conditions shock Editors Guild

Coverage conditions shock Editors Guild

IPL claims are 'ridiculous', say Guild office-bearers.

New Delhi: The IPL-media standoff, which threatens to snowball into a major crisis, wrote another chapter on Friday as the Editors Guild of India, in a strongly-worded letter to BCCI Chief Sharad Pawar, and IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi, took exception to the restrictions that the IPL is proposing to put on media coverage during the tournament.

The letter, which is signed by Guild President Alok Mehta and Secretary-General K.S.Sachidananda Murthy, has expressed regret and dismay at the Terms & Conditions that come with the media accreditation form for the IPL.

“With deep regret and dismay, we are forced to point out that there are prohibitive conditions in the Terms & Conditions attached with the form, specifically paras (d) and (e), which deal with conditions of Accreditation for Print Media and Photographers These conditions are unprecedented and unacceptable to the Indian media, to say the least,” the letter says.

The said paras prohibit free usage of agency photographs, which will have to be bought by all users from the IPL website. The agencies have also been asked to submit, within 24 hours, all the photographs taken by them, to the IPL. These restrictions have already prompted international agencies like AFP not to cover the IPL matches if the conditions stay.

Following is the text of the letter:

Dear Mr. Pawar and Mr Modi,

Greetings.

We are writing this letter on behalf of Editors Guild of India, a representative body of Editors of Newspapers, News Agencies and Television News Channels.

The Guild was established 30 years to protect the freedom of the Indian press, safeguard the independence of the editors, and make efforts to raise the standards of Indian Journalism.

The Constitution of India and prevalent socio political norms in our country have given complete freedom to the media to cover news events in every sphere including sports. Indian newspapers and news agencies, have been extensively covering sports events and the BCCI has a great tradition of providing access to journalists and photographers of the print media to stadia and other venues without any hindrance to their professional work. We are also thankful to the facilities provided to the media by various state associations and the BCCI.

This is with reference to the Media Accreditation form issued for coverage of the first edition of the Indian Premier League, which is an arm of BCCI and whose tournament is being conducted under the patronage and support of BCCI.

With deep regret and dismay, we are forced to point out that there are prohibitive conditions in the Terms & Conditions attached with the form, specifically paras (d) and (e), which deal with conditions of Accreditation for Print Media and Photographers These conditions are unprecedented and unacceptable to the Indian media, to say the least.
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Cricket and media have had a long and symbiotic relationship in our country.
Each and every glorious moment of Indian cricket has been meticulously recorded and communicated to the public by the media. Similarly, cricket has attained the status of a religion largely due to the coverage and influence of the media.

However, as the fourth estate and one of the strong pillars of Indian democracy, never before has the media been restrained from, or denied the right to cover an event of public interest within the country's boundaries. Not only this, but the conditions set by the IPL regarding coverage have appallingly sought to give a 'extremely limited' definition to the term "media".

The conditions described in the form stipulate, among other things, that the media cannot use any image or photograph in any other publication, even if it belongs to the same organisation. Indirectly, it is making a claim on the images taken by the media organisations as a property of the IPL.

To say the least, this is a ridiculous claim, unheard of in the annals of free India's media tradition. The IPL is even making a claim on the said property for future use.

The rules also stipulate that still images, taken by accredited photographers cannot be used for online editions of the newspapers for which the photographers may be working. In an age when most newspapers are also available to online readers, this stipulation is extremely untenable.

Furthermore, the rules even demand that the media organisations have to upload, at their own cost, the images obtained by them on the official website of IPL and the IPL can use these images without any payment to the newspapers or news agencies. It destroys the exclusivity and individuality of the work done by a photographer for a newspaper or news agency.

News agencies, which supply reports and photographers at a very nominal subscription fee to newspapers, most of which are small and published in regional languages - have had the access to all stadia so that their reports and images would reach the readers of newspapers in all nooks and corners of a vast country like India. Agencies like Press Trust of India and United News of India have been the lifeline for newspapers published in different parts of India.

In this age of multi-media, where most media companies are diversifying into various streams, the BCCI and its arm IPL cannot restrain or put conditions on them for dissemination of information and photographs via available streams.

As a free media institution committed to safeguard the hard won freedoms of Indian media, we condemn these conditions brought in for accreditation to IPL and refuse to accept such restraints. To ensure that BCCI and its strong partnership with Indian media continues, we urge you to use your good offices to remove all unnecessary and impossible conditions so that the innovative Indian Premier League's inaugural edition gets the extensive and free coverage that it deserves.

Awaiting your positive response,

Thanking You,

Yours Sincerely,

Alok Mehta (President) and K.S.Sachidananda Murthy (Secretary-General)

CC: Mr. Niranjan Shah
Hony. Secretary BCCI
Mumbai.
first published:April 04, 2008, 14:04 IST