The deadlock between the media and the Indian Premier League ended, at least in part, following a meeting between IPL organizers and editors from leading newspapers in Mumbai on Monday.
While the print media got relief on the use of images and the number of reporters and photographers allowed, top cricket websites like Rediff.com and Cricinfo have been banned from covering the IPL.
Adding insult to injury, the IPL has decreed that websites can cover pre-match and post-match press conferences, but their reporters and photographers will not be allowed into the press box when the actual matches are on.
Further, websites are not allowed to upload any pictures of the tournament, and news agencies have been banned from selling pictures to websites.
Climbing down from its earlier stand that newspapers would not be allowed to put up pictures on their websites, the IPL has conceded that newspaper websites can upload six different pictures on their portals, in addition to the pictures have been published in their print edition. They have also been allowed a maximum of two reporters and photographers for each game.
IPL chairman Lalit Modi said the new media guidelines will be shortly be posted on the tournament website, and that the deadline for media accreditation has been extended to April 10.
Also, as per the new guidelines, newspaper photographers are now not required to upload all their pictures on the IPL website. The organisers agreed that they will not have any rights over any photographs taken at the venues and will instead have their own photographers at each venue who will click around 10,000 pictures per day. They would also request the editors of all newspapers to send the best images of the day to be uploaded on the IPL website so it could be made available to fans worldwide. To encourage such a move, they would also give a daily prize to the best photograph of the day.
The Editors' Guild of India and Sports Journalists Federation had criticised the original media guidelines and had asked the BCCI to withdraw all restrictions on the coverage of the tournament. There were also reports that all the top newspapers were considering boycott of the tournament if the restrictions were not lifted, following which the BCCI acted swiftly and met the representatives from all the leading newspapers to resolve the issue.
The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) had also said that it would advise its member publications not to cover the IPL matches if the restrictive terms for accreditation were not withdrawn.
Accordingly, the IPL has revised the 13-page terms and conditions to two pages.
However, the News Media Coalition which includes top global news agencies like Agence France-Presse (AFP), Associated Press (AP), Reuters and Getty Images have not still taken a decision on the coverage of the event. Their main concern is not being allowed to sell photographs to websites and also the fear that this could set up a bad precedent for the future.
FIFA tried imposing similar restrictions on photo coverage of the 2006 World Cup; however, it had to back down after it faced a threat of a worldwide boycott.
In September last year organisers of the Rugby World Cup tried a similar stunt but had to bow down. Interestingly, then the photographers turned up for a commercial photo shoot and just took pictures of the grass as a protest.
In November last year, the global news agencies boycotted the coverage of the first Test between Sri Lanka and Australia, thereby leading to virtually no coverage of the match in Brisbane after similar restrictions were imposed by Cricket Australia. The Australian Cricket Board finally had to bow down, thereby ensuring that the second Test match was covered.