Media coverage of the first Test between India and England, beginning tonight New Zealand time, will be disrupted by media protests at new restrictions imposed by the Board of Cricket Control India (BCCI).
British media groups are refusing to publish any match photos in their newspapers or on their websites and several international news agencies have joined the boycott.
At the heart of the dispute is the use of photographic images taken during the series.
The BCCI plans to supply match images on its website and has barred international photo news agencies such as Getty Images and Action Images from attending the matches.
International news agencies have responded by saying they will not be providing any photographic coverage of one of the most high-profile clashes in cricket. The British-based Press Association has also decided not to distribute photographs from the tour.
"This is showing no signs of being resolved unless the BCCI pick up the telephone and explain what their real issues are to us," said Andrew Moger, the executive director of News Media Coalition, which campaigns for media freedom and represents press organisations around the world.
The BCCI say it is concerned that press photos taken at matches will later be used in advertising commercials over which it has no control. The NMC believes there are already prohibitions on this in place and that press freedom is at stake.
"The BCCI has excluded photo agencies on this basis but it is a red herring because there are clear accreditation rules which agencies have signed that stipulate the photographic material cannot be used for commercial purposes," said Moger.
"We are wholly concerned there might be something else behind this. It should be easily resolved. The assurances they want can be given.
"There has been talk of this among the world's sports governing bodies on and off for the last five years. Some believe that press photography is a big revenue area, others see it as necessary to control imagery so that they can control their properties and assets to an infinite extent."
BCCI media manager Devendra Prabhudesai said the board was not seeking to bar news agencies.
"The BCCI has a policy not to accredit photo syndication services like Getty Images and other similar foreign and domestic agencies."
"We have no such problems with AFP, AP or Reuters since their text and photo service is for editorial use only. We have already explained our stand to the News Media Coalition."
Fairfax Media New Zealand is supporting the NMC position and will not be publishing any BCCI-supplied match pictures in its newspapers or online.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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