Chairman of India's United Breweries Group and owner of Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL team Vijay Mallya (Foreground-C) with team members at the launch function in Bangalore in March 2008. Agence France-Presse (AFP) and other top news agencies have said they will not cover cricket's inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL), which starts Friday, due to curbs on the distribution of photographs.
NEW DELHI (AFP) - Agence France-Presse (AFP) and other top news agencies have said they will not cover cricket's inaugural Indian Premier League, which starts Friday, due to curbs on the distribution of photographs.
IPL officials have prohibited news agencies from supplying photographs to cricket-specific websites for the eight-team, Twenty20 tournament.
The London-based News Media Coalition (NMC), which defends media rights for global news and photograph agencies such as AFP, Associated Press, Getty Images and Reuters, called the restrictions "discriminatory."
"It is discriminatory for the accreditation terms to prohibit international news agencies from being able to serve a specific group of users, such as cricket websites," the NMC said in a statement.
"The interests of the Indian Premier League are protected by the fact that its accreditation terms limit news content generated by the news agencies to be used for editorial purposes only.
"The News Media Coalition calls upon the Indian Premier League to remove remaining obstacles in the way of full editorial coverage of the tournament," the release said.
The Editors Guild of India also called for the "unacceptable conditions" to be withdrawn.
In an advisory note to clients, AFP said it "will not, until further notice, offer any text, photo or graphics coverage of the inaugural Indian Premier League cricket, beginning Friday, due to restrictions imposed on international news agencies on the distribution of photographs."
The Press Trust of India decided to cover the event "under protest" after the IPL lifted a host of stringent conditions for accreditation but refused to lift the ban on cricket websites.
The tournament marks the first time that international cricketers will put aside national allegiances to play for privately-owned and city-based teams, who selected their players via a multi-million-dollar auction last month.
International cricketers have been offered huge pay packets to take part in the 44-day, 59-match extravaganza across cricket-mad India.
Moves by sports organisers to curb media rights have largely failed in the past.
FIFA tried imposing similar restrictions on photo coverage of the 2006 World Cup but backed down under a threat of a worldwide boycott.
In September last year, organisers of the Rugby World Cup settled at the last minute after a long dispute over media rights.
Two months later, global news agencies boycotted coverage of the first Test between Sri Lanka and Australia in Brisbane, after Cricket Australia imposed similar restrictions.
A compromise was reached after the match to allow the agencies to cover the second Test in Hobart.