Oz police to allow only select media to cover Canberra leg of Olympic torch relay

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Melbourne, Apr.22 : Only a small clutch of media personnel will be allowed to cover Thursday's Olympic torch relay in Australian capital Canberra.

Most of those selected to move in the surety corridor, are expected to be employees of the two media outlets who hold the broadcast rights for the Games, reports news.com.au.

ACT government director of communications Jeremy Lasek said a vehicle travelling in front of the torch would carry a Seven Network camera crew, a 2GB radio team and one photographer from News Limited, publisher of The Australian, who would take photos for all media outlets.

Seven and Macquarie Radio, owner of 2GB, have the broadcast rights for the Games, which are considered "radio-friendly" because of the time difference between Australia and China.

As steel crowd barriers were erected along the torch's 16km run, cut from 20km, Australian Capital Territories (ACT) Police yesterday revealed that at least half of its 700 officers would provide security, along with an undisclosed number of federal police personnel.

ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said yesterday the cost of the relay, to be shared with the Commonwealth, would probably approach two million Australian dollars, double the 900,000 dollars to one million dollars that was originally budgeted.

Organiser Ted Quinlan said vulnerable torch runners had not been selected for those sections of the run where trouble was most likely - the beginning and end of the run, as well as at the Parliament House.

About 3000 Chinese students and a lesser number of Tibet supporters are expected at the relay.

Civil liberties groups and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance yesterday raised concerns about restrictions placed on coverage of Thursday's relay.

Council for Civil Liberties national president Terry O'Gorman described the arrangements as "an unacceptable infringement on media freedoms".

MEAA national secretary Chris Warren called for the media to be given "full access".

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