Cricket Australia criticized over rights row with agencies

Other News Materials 9 November 2007 07:20 (UTC +04:00)

( AFP ) - Australia cricket's governing body came under fire Friday for imposing restrictions that have locked global news agencies out of the opening Australia-Sri Lanka cricket Test in Brisbane.

The world's top three global news agencies -- Agence France-Presse, Reuters and Associated Press -- suspended all coverage of the 2007-08 cricket season, also involving India, unless a deal can be agreed with Cricket Australia.

The agencies, which were Friday locked out of the second day of the Sri Lanka Test, say the dispute centres on unprecedented demands by CA, including that they hand over rights to all photos taken at matches.

The agencies were again missing during the second day's play in the Gabba Test although local media groups have now all reached agreement with CA and are covering the match.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, which represents more than 10,000 journalists across Australia, said CA's decision to demand a fee from the international news agencies would damage the game.

Chris Warren, the Alliance's federal secretary, criticised the organisation's attitude as "greedy".

"News coverage should not be up for sale; that is the basic issue at stake here," Warren said in a statement Friday.

"CA needs to remember, first and last, that a Test match involving the national team is a public event and news about it should be freely available to the public. At present CA is simply being greedy."

Warren said cricket would suffer enormously if cricket-mad countries such as Sri Lanka were deprived of full coverage of the Test series.

"Australian cricket - and our coverage of the national summer game - is regarded as the gold standard internationally and it would be tragic were this to be allowed to slip over this dispute," he said.

"And with the Indian team arriving later this summer, backed by the world's largest cricket audience, it would be a disaster if this dispute was not settled quickly."