New Delhi – Pakistan's first cricket tour to India in five years faced a media blackout Monday after international news agencies, including AFP, suspended coverage over a decision to bar their photo counterparts.
News outlets said they would not be filing any text or pictures after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) refused to accredit the international picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images as well as two Indian agencies.
The five-match series is due to start on Tuesday with a Twenty20 international in Bangalore.
“It is regrettable that the politically-charged Pakistan tour will be affected by the BCCI's failure to recognise the long-standing importance of photographic news agencies in the flow of sport and news images every day,” said the News Media Coalition, which represents a group of media organisations including AFP.
Other international agencies who are members of the coalition, such as Thomson Reuters and the Associated Press, will also halt text and photo coverage.
It is the second time in as many months that a series involving India has been hit by a coverage suspension, with a similar dispute embroiling England's recent tour.
As well as the suspension of coverage by the agencies, English newspapers and leading websites refused to use images supplied by the BCCI and instead used file pictures.
“As a direct result of the BCCI stance, great sporting moments from the cricket tours to India are going unrecorded and therefore lost forever. England's games were the hidden series and the Pakistan tour is heading for the same fate,” said Andrew Moger, executive director of the NMC.
The World Association of Newspapers is backing the suspension, saying the BCCI was “denying the ability of editors to select from the best of photography for the benefit of readers”.
A BCCI spokesman declined to comment but did refer reporters to a statement issued for the England tour which said there was “no intention to censor or limit bona fide news reporting” and emphasised that news agencies had been accredited.
The photo agencies however had been refused as the BCCI deemed “their primary businesses involved the commercial sale and licensing of images rather than the supply of images to news publications for bona fide editorial purposes”. – Sapa-AFP