Allowing access versus control of facts

BCCI provides access and accreditation to media entities that seek to cover cricket matches. Cricinfo and other websites are routinely denied media accreditation for India’s home series (it’s another matter that all other boards and the ICC invite Cricinfo into the media box and appreciate the role they it plays in the game’s global coverage). BCCI are within their right to do this, and Cricinfo’s reporters often cover such games from the stands.

But does BCCI als0 have control over the facts that emerge from a match they organise? Medianama’s Nikhil Pahwa asks some uncomfortable questions in an informative editorial that appeared on the Times of India today. The full article, with additional informative links, is also available on the Medianama website.

The ‘‘Hot News” doctrine says an event organiser has complete ownership of any news related to that event while it is hot and fresh. Because of that, only an entity that has been sold the rights can report it live. This is different from broadcast and images, because a video clip or photograph belong to the entity creating it. Copyright exists in what you create, not in the event that it is based on. Because copyright cannot exist in facts, anyone can report them.

While the organiser of an event (say, the BCCI, a company, or even a political party) has rights to allow access to an event, it doesn’t have control over facts from it. Today a journalist can be prevented from attending a rally, but can’t be prevented from reporting live, perched on top a building overlooking the rally. ”Hot News” gives control to an organiser to force a media publication, dependent on him for access to information, to play nice and not be critical.

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