Australian parliament examines sports news row

CANBERRA, April 14, 2009 (AFP) – Australia’s Senate will this week examine a critical dispute between sports administrators and global media over the use of digital technology to cover sporting events. The issue has become increasingly controversial, sparking media boycotts of major events as sports bodies seek to impose strict conditions on how games are reported on platforms such as the Internet and mobile phones.

The Senate will hear from media executives and sporting chiefs in what is believed to be the first parliamentary inquiry anywhere into a global issue set to shape the way sports fans follow games in the digital era.

Media organisations argue that reporting sports events has been an integral part of news coverage for more than 150 years and has played a crucial role in promoting games internationally.

They say press freedom means they should have still have unfettered access to report sport regardless of what technology is used, pointing out that means of communication have changed regularly over the centuries.

The News Media Coalition, representing a raft of international media groups, said in its submission: “Clearly event organisers have legitimate commercial interests