News agencies end boycott of Australian cricket

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Sydney, Nov 16: International news agencies have ended their boycott of Australian cricket after reaching a deal over media coverage rights.

Reuters, Associated Press and Agence France-Presse had all been refusing to cover the series between Australia and Sri Lanka in protest at Cricket Australia's (CA) demands.

But they reached a provisional agreement today, allowing the agencies to start coverage of the second test in Hobart, which started the same day.

''Reuters is pleased to be able to resume its timely and premium coverage of Cricket Australia so that we can provide our normal news service to our clients,'' said Monique Villa, Reuters managing director, media.

''However, the agreement is provisional and expires on Dec 10 if in the event Cricket Australia tries to limit our normal editorial activities once again.

''I can confirm that Cricket Australia has abandoned its attempts to impose a licence fee for news access or limits on who can receive our news service.

''Reuters refuses to discriminate among its clients and it will always act to protect the fundamental principles of press freedom.'' The dispute centred on CA's demand that media pay for the right to distribute photographs from their event.

CA had also wanted to put restrictions on the agencies' right to sell photographs to individuals freely as well as disputing the categories of news organisations the agencies were free to sell pictures to.

The agencies refused to sign the agreement, saying it threatened their journalistic integrity, but said they were now satisfied.

CA spokesman Peter Young told Reuters: ''It's good news. The issues are complex and will continue to cause global arguments between the media and the sports industry.

''After a week of very robust discussions we have come to a pragmatic solution that suits both parties.

''More importantly the public access to the game will increase because there are now more people covering the game.'' Australia are the highest ranked team in world cricket but only 55,953 people attended the five days of the first Sri Lanka test while television viewing figures were down nearly 41 per cent on last year, according to a report in Daily Telegraph.

UNI

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