Saturday, April 5, 2008

Easing of IPL's media restrictions on the cards

The IPL may back down on its restrictions on media coverage in the wake of threats of a boycott...

The outcry over the stringent and unprecedented conditions set by the Indian Premier League (IPL) in its guidelines for covering the inaugural tournament may prompt a climbdown on certain issues, including perhaps reworking the contentious clauses governing media coverage. Top officials of the Indian Premier League, who are due to meet on Sunday, appear keen to avoid a media boycott - which is a possibility - and are likely to frame a suitable formal response to the criticism.

On Friday, Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, called up Alok Gupta, president of the influential Editors' Guild of India - which earlier in the day had condemned the restrictions - and indicated he didn't want a media boycott. It is also believed that Modi indicated the IPL was working on amendments to the terms and conditions.

The IPL had indicated a possible softening of stand on Thursday when IS Bindra, a member of the governing council, told Cricinfo the league was ready to discuss the issue with all parties involved to reach an amicable solution.

One of the factors behind the IPL's stringent terms is a feeling of discontent in the BCCI - which controls the IPL - over not having the rights to, or control over, photographs taken by the news agencies at earlier matches played in India. That, it is believed, prompted the inclusion of the clause giving the IPL rights to all photographs taken at all matches.

As reported earlier, the contentious clause deals with IPL's right to use all pictures taken at its grounds for free and without restrictions; the commitment by news organisations to upload on the IPL site, within 24 hours, all images taken at the ground; and the restriction of web portals' access to images without prior permission from the IPL.

Bindra explained that the restrictions on web portals' access to images was a fallout of the IPL having sold web portal rights for the event to a company based in North America for US$50 million.

Along with the Editors' Guild of India, the Sports Journalists' Federation of India had also issued a statement expressing "alarm and concern" over the IPL's conditions and asked that the "unfair and unethical restrictions being placed on the media be withdrawn unconditionally".

The reactions from Indian associations came a day after Agence France-Presse (AFP), a respected international news agency, indicated it would not cover the IPL given the conditions laid down at present. "The terms and conditions are too strict and raise questions about press freedom," Barry Parker, AFP's South Asia bureau chief, told Cricinfo. "The present terms and conditions don't allow us to cover the event."

Indian Premier League