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In an effort to find a solution to widespread press concerns regarding the coverage of IPL 2010, the News Media Coalition (NMC), which reached a compromise agreement with the IPL for last year's competition in South Africa, called upon the tournament's organisers "to avoid alienating the international news media community".

"The terms on offer from the IPL raise serious issues of press freedom including the ability to inform the public with topical information and the legitimate distribution of news content for editorial publications," a statement from the body read. "The current wording will serve to act as a barrier to coverage by some media. This can only result in the loss of opportunities for cricket fans internationally to share in this news spectacle through the opinions and eyes of independent journalists and photographers working for publishers worldwide through the network of agencies and newspaper syndication services."

Indian news broadcasters have decided not to cover the third season in protest against "arbitrary" guidelines and contentious clauses regarding tournament footage. The decision, taken yesterday, followed a meeting between the News Broadcasters' Association (NBA) and officials of the IPL and Set Max, the channel holding the broadcast rights for the tournamment.

The NBA, which has 34 member channels, said the IPL and Set Max officials "arbitrarily" refused to abide by the 2008 norms, which had been agreed on by all.

The media coverage guidelines for 2010 have reduced the duration of match footage that news channels can carry -- 30 seconds per bulletin and seven minutes a day. Repeats will be allowed three times a day, as against four previously, and while match footage could earlier be telecast with a five-minute delay from the end of the live telecast, it has been expanded to a half-hour delay.

The first IPL season was boycotted by the international news agencies over certain contentious clauses in the media accreditation guidelines, including a bar on supplying photographs to cricket-specific websites such as Cricinfo.

The second season witnessed a repeat after NMC, the umbrella body that includes global news and photograph agencies Reuters, AP, AFP and Getty Images, objected over the same clause. However, the boycott was lifted after the IPL removed the clause from the terms of coverage.

The NMC hoped for a similar move from the tournament organisers this time as well and sought the media terms for the IPL 2010 to reflect the agreement for the second edition." In particular they [news organisations] would wish the IPL to remove those aspects of the terms and conditions which seek to define news platforms that are acceptable to the IPL in terms of their ownership and/or the scope of their business operations," the statement said. "This would mean reinstating 2009 wording which sought to deal with IPL concerns about what the IPL felt were rogue operators, many of whom the IPL acted against.

"We believe the language presents an excessive limitation on the free flow of information such as journalistic photography through legitimate distribution chains and is therefore damaging to press freedom. For many news organisations it is not feasible, nor in accord with their founding principles, to distinguish between legitimate customers.

"It may be that alternative wording which mirrors the sentiments of the 2009 agreement could be found and we look forward to hearing a positive response on this. There are other concerns, particularly as regards the imposition of updating quotas, which also need reconsideration."

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