A further sign that sports organisers are trying to raise cash from press covering events comes from the West Indies. Journalists covering the cricket World Cup in the Caribbean are being charged enormous sums for access to the internet, with the slowest wireless service priced at Â£30 a day, plus a Â£25 one-off set-up charge. Fixed line access costs between Â£50 and Â£180 a week, while those taking the top of the range service for the full tournament must pay Â£368.
The profiteering has also extended to the provision to spectators of water, which is being charged at $3 per small cup, while spectators’ own drinks brought to the grounds have been confiscated on “health and safety reasons”.
Journalists’ complaints echo those heard from swimming correspondents ahead of the expensively priced Fina World Championships, which have got underway in Melbourne this week.
The situation at the cricket has prompted one journalist to decsribe it as “exploitation on a scale not seen in the region since pirates and colonial overlords plundered it hundreds of years ago”.
As well as pricy telecoms charges, Caribbean hotels have tripled their usual room rates.
Cable & Wireless, the network provider, has also insisted that those wanting fixed line access have to pay one month’s rental charges in advance – even though some reporters at the event to cover the likes of Scotland are likely to be packing up for home after this weekend.
“Internet access at top events is usually provided free. It is part of doing the job. We can’t live without it. They know that,” one reporter said.
The local organisers appear to hav washed their hands of any responsibility. World Cup communications director Marvia Roach said: “I personally wasn’t involved in negotiating the rates. They are provided by our service provider, Cable & Wireless.
“We did work with them and advised them along the way of rates we thought we ought to have, but they have to provide the service and there is no obligation on their part to provide that service at a discounted rate.”
To add insult to injury, the telecommunications network in the press boxes only work during set hours during the matches – so as soon as it’s been turned off, despite paying the excessive rates, the journalists have to retreat to the media centre, which is often overcrowded, or their hotel.
If you are covering the Cricket World Cup, post your comments on working conditions below.