News channels given temporary access to ICC WC

Mohali: The ICC on Tuesday agreed to allow Indian TV channels to attend the high-voltage World Cup semifinals between India and Pakistan on Wednesday following a request from Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.

Soni today stepped in to resolve the ongoing tussle between the ICC and the electronic media, which was barred by ICC from covering tomorrow`s semi-final clash.

The minister had a meeting with the representatives of the News Broadcasters Association this morning and then wrote a letter to Pawar requesting him to allow the electronic media to cover the event.

She proposed a 24-hour `truce` in a dispute created by Indian non-rights holders (NRH) breaching the terms and conditions they had agreed to follow when they were awarded accreditation for the World Cup.

"Ms Soni had written to ICC President Sharad Pawar and asked for the television channels be allowed access into the ground at Mohali for this important game," ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said.

"At the same time she agreed to convene a meeting at the Ministry on 31 March 2011 to address the dispute which has been caused by repeated and serious breaches of the terms and conditions which these organisations had signed up to."

Giving a vivid outline of the facts, Lorgat said, "Firstly, the News Access Guidelines for Broadcasting the ICC Cricket World Cup were issued in January 2011 and all news broadcasters were reminded of these Guidelines in a letter from the ICC on 27 January.

"No objections to the guidelines were received and accreditations were issued to the NRH reporters and cameramen on condition that these guidelines were followed.

"Sadly there have been many breaches and despite requests for such activity to cease the NRH stations continued to break the rules.

"It was only as a last resort that the ICC withdrew the accreditation of these companies when they refused to sign an undertaking that they would desist from breaching the guidelines. It was not something done without very good reason," he added.

Lorgat, however, pledged to protect the rights of its broadcast and commercial partners.

"It is also important to understand that the removal of the accreditation does not prevent these channels from reporting the ICC Cricket World Cup. It only prevents them from entering the stadium. Footage is provided to them from several agencies, including SNTV and Reuters, the ICC`s official news providers," he said.

"I am grateful for the minister`s intervention in calling a meeting but I must repeat that we are committed to protecting the rights and investments of our broadcast partners as well as the exclusivity of our commercial partners.

"We will not allow that to be compromised and if the relevant members of the News Broadcasters? Association are not willing to give the necessary undertakings we require, we will have no other option but to withdraw accreditation for the final in Mumbai," he added.

Earlier in the day, ICC had barred electronic media, who breached the media guidelines for covering the ongoing World Cup, access to the PCA stadium, depriving them of covering the pre-match press conferences.

Last night too, the ICC had barred a large number of electronic media, mainly from India and Bangladesh from covering the remaining matches of the cricket World Cup for breaching the media guidelines.

ICC officials, armed with a list of banned channels, checked the media accreditations of all the journalists as they entered the stadium to cover the press conferences of Indian skipper Mahendra Singh and Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi.

Only those channels who were not in the banned list were permitted to enter the stadium while others had to report on World Cup related matters from outside the venue.

As a result, there were hordes of reporters from the print media but only a handful of television cameras at the press conference.