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Reuters again suspends Australian cricket coverage over media rights

Reuters has suspended coverage of Cricket Australia matches and events for a second season because of a long-running dispute over media rights and freedom of the press.

Reuters said on Friday it was unable to provide text, pictures or audio-visual coverage of the 2009/10 international season against West Indies and Pakistan after Cricket Australia refused to change its conditions of accreditation. It said it could not agree to terms which impinge on its ability to fairly and freely report on, and disseminate, news.

"We are very disappointed that, yet again, Cricket Australia is not prepared to facilitate full and impartial news coverage of their upcoming season," said Christoph Pleitgen, Thomson Reuters’ Global Head of News Agency. "We remain prepared to enter into discussions and negotiations to secure acceptable accreditation terms for our journalists and we sincerely hope that we will be able to bring news of cricket from Australia to viewers and readers all over the world but, at present, we are unable to accept the limitations that Cricket Australia is imposing."

Reuters advised clients that it "holds firmly to the belief that there can be no better promotion for any sport than the availability of timely, unbiased information to as many newspapers, websites, broadcasters and magazines as possible" and that it would welcome any move by Cricket Australia to review its decision.

Along with The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse, Reuters suspended coverage of Cricket Australia events last season over the same dispute, prompting the Australian government to conduct an inquiry to find a balance between the commercial interests of sporting bodies and the rights of media to get fair access to those events.

The inquiry committee agreed that sporting organisations had a right to protect their copyright and explore business opportunities but not at the expense of media freedom. It agreed with media organisations that sporting events were of genuine public interest and urged the sporting bodies to stop using accreditation conditions to control access to events. ■