Australian media decide to boycott photo coverage of India series

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 13, 2013 13:25 hrs

Melbourne: Major Australian media houses have decided to boycott photo coverage of the upcoming Test series against India starting on February 22 in Chennai in protest against the BCCI's decision to deny accreditation to a photo news agency.

NEWS Limited and AAP said they will not publish images and show videos from Australia's tour of India after the BCCI locked out Getty Images, which supplies images to four of the biggest media companies in Australia.

Getty Images provides images to major Australian publishers, including News Limited, Fairfax Media, APN News & Media and Seven West Media.

The boycott comes a day after Australian Broadcasting Corporation decided not to broadcast or report live from the tour after veteran radio commentator Jim Maxwell was denied accreditation by the BCCI.

A similar boycott had happened during England's tour of India last year after the BCCI denied accreditation to two international photo news agencies, Getty Images and Action Images.

News agencies including AFP, Thomson-Reuters and the Associated Press suspended text and photo coverage of the England series over the BCCI's decision. British newspapers and their websites carried no live photos or video grabs of the England series.

Australia's peak industry body, The Newspaper Works, has expressed disappointment at the decision of the BCCI to lock out Getty Images from the Test tour.

The Newspaper Works chief executive, Tony Hale, expects major publishers based in Australia to enforce a similar ban.

"The BCCI's decision is not in the interests of cricket fans, the public or ultimately the great game of cricket. Reputable photographic agencies like Getty Images should not be discriminated against and the International Cricket Council should intervene," Hale said. 

"This policy means cricket played between India and Australia on the current tour receives no independent and expert photographic coverage which is so critical to capturing the drama, skill and sheer entertainment of cricket for fans across the world", Hale said.

"The industry recognises the BCCI media policy is an attack on the news supply network and there is potential other governing bodies would follow suit unless publishers demonstrate their discontent," he said.

"Ultimately, the media would favour an approach where we work together as partners for the good of the game and fans."

Australian Associated Press (AAP) also said it will support the probable boycott by Australian publishers, with AAP editor-in-chief, Tony Gillies, saying, "AAP will not be sending a photographer to India. AAP will not act as a distributor of images provided by the BCCI.''

Fairfax Media described the lock-out, which could prevent high-profile Australian media companies from accessing independent, expert images of the on-field action, as "arrogant", "Orwellian" and contrary to the notion of a free press.

However, a spokesperson would not confirm if Fairfax would join a publishers' protest, saying, "We will be making our own decisions".

Fairfax Metro Media editorial director Garry Linnell said, "The arrogance of the Indian Cricket Board is breathtaking - but the far-reaching implications are simply Orwellian. Last time I looked cricket around the globe has been struggling for relevance and legitimacy.

"If they want to kill the game as a global product and deny Australians the opportunity of seeing their own players, then such short-sighted behaviour will go a long way in achieving such an outcome. It's also a complete rejection of the notion of a free press," he said.

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