Cricket crisis as journalists locked out of Test

Journalists and photographers from Australia’s largest media group, News Ltd, were today locked out of the first Test match between Australian and Sri Lanka in Brisbane. Cricket Australia was later forced into making an apology for comments it made about the Murdoch-owned News Ltd, but with three of the world’s leading news agencies already boycotting the Test match, a resolution is not in sight.

Cricket Australia released a statement apologising for comments made on Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) radio this morning by CA’s public affairs manager Peter Young who said proposals by News Ltd, Australia’s largest media company, would divert money for community cricket to the company.

News Ltd joined Reuters, Associated Press and Agence France-Press in withdrawing match coverage because of CA’s demands that they pay a hefty fee or give intellectual property rights for images taken at the ground to Cricket Australia.

In the apology, CA chief executive James Sutherland acknowledged that News Ltd’s concern in access discussions relates solely to its traditional role of freely reporting news, including cricket.

“News Limited has contributed significantly to the promotion of public interest in cricket and is an important partner for the game.

“I hope we can resolve current discussions as soon as possible and get back to the business of staging and reporting cricket.”

The Test match began without the presence of the usual contingent of cricket reporters and photographers.

Veteran cricket writers Peter Lalor, Malcolm Conn and Mike Coward from Australia’s leading national daily newspaper The Australian, flagship of the News Ltd stable, are pictured on the newspaper’s website listening to the Test on a laptop. They were told at the last minute by Cricket Australia to pack their bags after News Ltd and the agencies refused to pay a licensing fee.

Peter Lalor wrote online: “The first Test began with journalists, including this correspondent, locked outside the ground by Cricket Austalia officials.

”Like schoolboys we gathered outside the ground straining for a glimpse of the action through the fence.”

For more on working conditions for sports journalists, follow these links:

Agencies boycott Test over image demands

Rugby World Cup dispute

IRB blasted over its “pursuit of the dollar”

Melbourne bunglers build pool without a view

Football licences and press liberty

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