Following an evening of high drama, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has agreed to lift the ban on coverage of the World Cup Final on April 2 by news channels after initially not agreeing to do so. It may be recalled the earlier in the evening the Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) had called upon ICC President Sharad Pawar to review the ban decision.
However, ICC has also made it clear that it would initiate legal action against any channel that breached the broadcast guidelines. The game’s governing body further said that both BEA and News Broadcasters Association (NBA) had refused to give assurances that they would not breach the broadcast guidelines in their news programming. Hence, it would take legal action against the companies involved and will also seek to recover damages rather than bar the channels from the ICC Cricket World Cup final.
Reacting to the press statement issued by ICC, BEA expressed regret and in a release issued stated: “Broadcast Editors’ Association had raised the issue of media’s right to have access to events of public importance. While ICC has reinstated accreditation for the final match, it is regrettable that ICC has not recognised journalistic rights to cover events that have public significance.”
Earlier in the day on April 1, ICC and representatives of BEA and News Broadcasters Association (NBA) had a four-hour long meeting, following which ICC decided to ban news channels from covering the Final match between India and Sri Lanka.
The marathon meeting failed to find any solution to the issue of cancellation of accreditation to the journalists of electronic media. Reportedly, ICC insisted on its demand that news channels must not run sponsored score cubes, arguing that it had exclusive proprietary rights in communication of the match scores. However, the representatives of NBA and BEA said that reporting match scores was within the purview of news channels.
In a release issued by the BEA, under the leadership of Shazi Zaman, President and NK Singh, General Secretary, the broadcasters’ body underlined the importance of the World Cup coverage to the interest of the viewers of India. The release stated, “The decision of the International Cricket Council (ICC) to withdraw the accreditation of journalists covering Cricket World Cup matches is not only against this interest, but also in contravention of the rights of the citizens to be informed. We tried our best to make the ICC understand this, but the recalcitrant attitude of the latter rendered our efforts sterile in the past three days.”
The BEA also called upon the Government of India to take a serious view of the “high-handed” attitude of the ICC, considering the importance that cricket had assumed in India and also in view of the fact that the Presidents of India and Sri Lanka would witness the final match. The statement further stated, “Since it is a public occasion by virtue of these facts, the role of the media to inform cannot be undermined.”
Earlier, the ICC had withdrawn its ban on the electronic media from covering the India-Pakistan semi-final match in Mohali following the intervention of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
However, as they say – all’s well that ends well, and we have hopefully heard the last of this tussle over the World Cup coverage.
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ICC CWC'11: ICC bans news channels from World Cup coverage