(Image taken from here)
Well, the cricket enthusiasts among the readers of Spicy IP are no doubt glued to the daily reports of the India-England ongoing test series, with the series poised on 1-1 in a tantalizing manner. The traditionalists would undoubtedly swear by the attractions of a well-crafted test match news report (with stalwarts like Neville Cardus having created not a few rare gems in that field). However, it is not the fate of the entire global populace to savour the writings of the modern day successors of Cardus, at least as far as the ongoing series is concerned. This is because most of the prominent international news agencies’ earlier decision to boycott the series as a protest against the restrictions imposed by the Board of Cricket Control of India on selected photo agencies covering the tour.
Getty Images, Action Images and two other Indian photo agencies have been prevented by the BCCI to engage in their regular practice of distributing many images as part of their editorial coverage. This practice was apparently widely appreciated by the news agencies, the fans and hence by the sponsors too by proxy. However, this time BCCI had said that it would provide its own photographs and withheld the accreditation of the photo agencies to stop them from such practice. To protest such high-handed action that many are perceiving as a curb on media freedom, international print media giants like Thomson Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press have decided to suspend pictorial as well as text coverage of the tour that was initially being perceived as the Indian team’s shot at ‘brownwashing’ their British peers.
The News Media Coalition has condemned this move by the BCCI, saying that it would deprive cricket enthusiasts the world over in enjoying the high quality pictorial coverage usually provided by those agencies. Even the International Olympic Committee has supported such condemnation of what it says to be a "direct attack on the freedom of the media to report from sporting events," that "shows contempt for the sporting public around the world who would otherwise like to follow these important matches." BCCI was not even forthcoming with a reasonable explanation of its move, which have angered the media even further. On the contrary, it has stated that the said agencies has not met its accreditation standards on the ground that their primary businesses involved the commercial sale and licensing of images rather than the supply of images to news publications for bona fide editorial purposes.
The readers may remember a recent coverage of a set of restricting principles that the Delhi High Court had laid down in the matter of TV channels displaying footages from cricket broadcasts. While that was a matter in which broadcast and commercial broadcast had been firmly distinguished between by the court, this seems like yet another ostensible attempt to do the same, if the BCCI’s explanation is accepted, that is. One may wonder the extent to which the distinction can be extended, given there isn’t likely to be a lot agents these days, whether belonging to print or visual media, who don’t have commercial motives involved in their activities. Given that such agents are likely to attract the best quality artists by way of incentives, it is perhaps the audience at the end who’re going to suffer if the former are to be stifled by way of media freedom being curbed.