Fairfax Media has confirmed it will not sign its journalists up to cover next year’s Commonwealth Games under the current accreditation rules.
Fairfax, publisher of The Age,The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times, is the latest media organisation to take such action due to the strict coverage rules imposed by the Commonwealth Games Federation designed to protect the TV rights of host broadcaster Channel Seven.
“We will not be signing up for Commonwealth Games 2018 accreditation under the current terms and rules required,” a Fairfax spokesperson said on Tuesday.
The restrictions compel publishers to obey a 30-minute delay for broadcasting content collected at news conferences and limit digital news bulletins to a maximum of 60 seconds a day across no more than three bulletins a day.
News Corp has also advised it will not send journalists to April’s Games, which will be the first held in Australia since Melbourne 2006.
Before Fairfax’s decision on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the company had said previously: “Australians deserve unrestricted coverage of their government-funded Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“We won’t be forced into providing journalism that’s anything less than ‘Independent. Always.’ and we will not agree to the terms and rules currently required for accreditation of journalists at the Games.
“We welcome having productive discussions with the organisers to resolve these important matters.”
News wire Australian Associated Press has also raised concerns on coverage rights.
AAP chief executive Bruce Davidson said the agency was still in discussions over accreditation, but was concerned with the restrictions.
“AAP agrees with the industry in general that the current accreditation conditions being sought by the Games organisers impose undue restrictions on press freedom and limits the ability of publishers to provide vital and independent news coverage for Australians,” Davidson said.
Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Corporation chairman Peter Beattie said there was nothing the corporation could do to change the news access rules.
“They can only be varied between Seven and News, Fairfax and AAP,” Beattie told The Australian.
“Our hands are tied. We’re not party to the agreement. I can’t change it even if I wanted to. We have to enforce it.”
The corporation released a statement on Monday, reiterating it cannot negotiate further on broadcast rights but hoped media organisations would cover the Games.
“While [the corporation] is not in a position to negotiate further on broadcast rights, we hope that for the benefit of [the Games] all media outlets will seek accreditation and share the once-in-lifetime moments that only an event of this size can bring,” the statement read.
It said the news access rules apply to video and audio content generated within Games venues, but were trying to provide other opportunities for “enhanced event coverage” and increased access to athletes and officials.
“They provide little restriction on written and photographic coverage and no restriction on video or audio content outside of venues,” it added.
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