Fairfax Media joins Comm Games boycott

Murray Wenzel
Fairfax and News Corp will not cover the Commonwealth Games because of accreditation rules

Fairfax Media has joined News Corp Australia in confirming its reporters and photographers will not cover next year's Commonwealth Games under the current accreditation rules.

The stance is due to the strict coverage rules imposed by the Commonwealth Games Federation, designed to protect the TV rights of host broadcaster Channel Seven for the April 4 to 15 event.

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

"We will not be signing up for Commonwealth Games 2018 accreditation under the current terms and rules required," Fairfax Media said on Tuesday.

The announcement by Fairfax Media - the publisher of The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times - follows News Corp Australia's refusal of terms on Monday.

Global media rights campaigner News Media Coalition, of which Fairfax, News and AAP are members, has called on the Commonwealth Games to recognise the need and value of established news media.

"It is disappointing and avoidable that news companies ... be made to feel in particular aspects unwelcome," an NMC statement read.

"What cannot change is the desire of the independent news sector to use journalistic endeavour and legitimate content operations to deliver editorial material to consumers as fast, informed and rich as possible - and making news judgement as they see fit."

But Commonwealth Games Federation boss David Grevemberg urged Australian media to come to the party, arguing that commercial arrangements like the one in question are vital for the successful staging of major events.

"(They) underwrite a significant amount of the Commonwealth Games budget which would otherwise have to be subsidised through the public purse," he said.

"We fully believe that now is the time for all news media to seize the opportunity Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games provides to promote the power of our Sport Movement to people in the Gold Coast, Australia and worldwide."

Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) chief executive Mark Peters said on Monday GOLDOC was bound by the agreement reached between the CGF and Seven in 2014.

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