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News Corp to boycott Commonwealth Games

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Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia is refusing to apply for accreditation to attend next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the Winter Olympics in a dispute over coverage rights.

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News has told the Commonwealth Games Federation it won’t seek accreditation for journalists and photographers to attend games from April 4 to 15 next year.

But it will provide coverage of the major sporting event from outside the official venues.

The decision comes after the parties failed to reach a deal to relax restrictions around the use of pictures and video from events online.

The restrictions compel publishers to obey a 30-minute delay for broadcasting content collected at news conferences and limit digital news bulletins to a maximum of 60 seconds a day across no more than three bulletins a day.

The news access rules were imposed by the Commonwealth Games Federation to protect the TV rights of the Seven Network.

“Under these restrictions, our journalists would be able to tell our readers less than spectators at the events would be able to tell their friends,” The Australian’s editor-in-chief Paul Whittaker said.

Fairfax Media and news wire Australian Associated Press have also raised concerns on coverage rights.

AAP CEO Bruce Davidson said the agency was still in discussions over accreditation, but is concerned with the restrictions.

“AAP agrees with the industry in general that the current accreditation conditions being sought by the Games organisers impose undue restrictions on press freedom and limits the ability of publishers to provide vital and independent news coverage for Australians,” Davidson said.

Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Corporation chairman Peter Beattie said there was nothing GOLDOC could do to change the news access rules.

“They can only be varied between Seven and News, Fairfax and AAP,” Beattie told The Australian.

“Our hands are tied. We’re not party to the agreement.

“I can’t change it even if I wanted to. We have to enforce it.”

GOLDOC released a statement today, reiterating that it cannot negotiate further on broadcast rights but hoped media organisations would cover the games.

“While GOLDOC is not in a position to negotiate further on broadcast rights, we hope that for the benefit of GC2018 all media outlets will seek accreditation and share the once-in-lifetime moments that only an event of this size can bring,” the statement read.

It said the news access rules apply to video and audio content generated within games venues, but were trying to provide other opportunities for “enhanced event coverage” and increased accessed to athletes and officials.

“They provide little restriction on written and photographic coverage and no restriction on video or audio content outside of venues,” it added.

– AAP

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