PtG Article 19.01.2007

Newspaper organisations continue fight against sports federations

Traditional news media that want to cover sport events on their websites are coming under increasing pressure from sports federations. Right now the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) are negotiating with the International Cricket Council and the International Rugby Board to keep their respective 2007 World Cups open for traditional print media.

The International Cricket Council has proposed rules for the upcoming World Cup that effectively will stop media websites from publishing running reports for each of the game’s overs.

The so-called over-by-over reports are very popular and are often written by journalists watching the matches on television. Nevertheless, media organisations that provide over-by-over reports on their websites could find their journalists banned from entering the grounds where matches are played.

“These are draconian restrictions on press freedom and the ability of publishers and editors to inform their readers,” Steve Oram says to the British newspaper, The Guardian. Oram is the director of the Newspaper Publishers Association and chairman of the Sport Media Working Group at the World Association of Newspapers.

WAN represents 18,000 newspapers world-wide and has set up the Sport Media Working Group because sports federations increasingly place restrictions on newspaper coverage of sport events to protect the rights of those who have bought internet, mobile and broadcasting rights to the event.

WAN believes that these restrictions often go well beyond what is needed to protect the rights of licensees and consider them an intrusion on press freedom. In meetings with international sports organisations, WAN therefore seeks to highlight the value of newspaper coverage to sponsors of the events and remind sports organisations that newspapers play a major role on a day-to-day basis in publicising sport.

Nevertheless, the Sport Media Working Group seems to have its work cut out. Last year, WAN spent a lot of time and effort negotiating with FIFA ahead of the World Cup in Germany to give newspapers the right to publish photos from matches on their websites without restrictions.

Now WAN is not only talking to the International Cricket Council but also to the International Rugby Board about the rights to publish images on websites from its 2007 World Cup. And according to a press release from WAN meetings with other sports organisations are also expected in the coming year.