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Cricket | International

ICC urged to intervene in coverage dispute



Media organisations on Tuesday called on world cricket's governing body to intervene in a dispute over coverage restrictions of the test series between India and England, saying the row was damaging the game.

The News Media Coalition, writing on behalf of a group of news agencies, newspapers and publishers, urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to "use its influence and global standing" to persuade the Indian cricket board (BCCI) to lift the curbs which have triggered a text and photo blackout of the series.

"We recognise that the ICC does not have direct authority of the media policy of individual national cricket bodies but view the ICC as the collective custodians of the good name of the sport, fair play and the promotion of the game," said the letter whose signatories include Agence France-Presse.

"The BCCI's policy of locking out an important sector of the news industry risks damaging much that the ICC has sought to achieve."

News agencies such as AFP, Thomson-Reuters and the Associated Press have all suspended text and photo coverage of the four test series over the BCCI's decision to bar photo counterparts such as Getty Images and Action Images.

English newspapers have also refused to publish live pictures either in their online or print editions, instead running file images or even spoof cartoons.

"It surely does not help those who feel cricket should enjoy maximum visibility, even greater participation and acceptance within the staging of sporting events such as Olympics," said the letter to the ICC chief executive Dave Richardson and Colin Gibson, its head of media.

The ICC has drawn up proposals for Twenty20 cricket to eventually become an Olympic sport.

Kevan Gosper, chairman of the International Olympic Committee's press commission, is among those to have criticised the BCCI stance, calling it "a direct attack on the freedom of the media".

The accreditation dispute is the latest between the BCCI and media organisations to mar the series.

Satellite broadcaster Sky, which holds the British rights to the series, is having to commentate from its London headquarters off a live picture feed rather than pay a reported additional 500 000 pounds (approximately R7 million) to the BCCI.

No reaction was immediately available from the BCCI.

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