IPL And Media Publications At Loggerheads Over Restrictive New Media Guidelines

The Indian Premier League is certainly throwing its weight around, and pushing its luck – the media guidelines issued regarding the much hyped and controversial Twenty20 Cricket tournament, reportedly include clauses related to Internet reports and photographs that have media organizations up in arms. So what are the restrictions?

Website Accredition: The IPL has refused to grant accredition to websites for the event. I wonder if that includes Cricinfo, which primarily depends on the Internet and mobile, but has a magazine as well. Almost all publications and TV channels have websites with Cricket coverage…will their media accredition be revoked?
Photographs: For most media publications, the problem is around photographs: The IPL is claiming sole copyright for the images, and no match images are allowed to be made available on mobile either. Photographers are required to first upload photos on the official IPL website within 24 hours. Apparently: “The IPL shall be entitled to use and reproduce, free of charge, worldwide and without limit in any time and all photographs/images captured by the accredited party at any group…”

So what’s being done? The Sports Journalists Federation of India and the Editors Guild of India have written to BCCI President Sharad Pawar expressing “alarm and concern”. They’ve called the claims ridiculous. The Agence France-Press (AFP) has said they can’t cover the tournament. Reuters (NSDQ: RTRSY) and the Associated Press are considering a boycott.

This isn’t the first time a Cricket authority has been at loggerheads with the media – in 2006, Cricket Australia had banned online video coverage of the Ashes series between Australia and England, also threating to revoke press accredition for journalists.

The IPL has has a prize money of Rs 12 Crores (around $3 million), and sponsorship is around the Rs. 500 crore ($125 million) mark. Here’s the match schedule.

Update: Some fire-fighting expected from the BCCI – ToI reports that the IPL representatives will discuss the issue with media representatives today. Given that there’s a politician at the helm of the BCCI, I wonder if a “rollback” is in the offing. However, a compromise solution will still mean that media guidelines will be more stringent than normal.