News channels lobby to get ICC nod for World Cup coverage

NEW DELHI: Even as television news channels heaved a sigh of relief over the decision of the International Cricket Council to allow coverage of the Cricket World Cup final between India and Sri Lanka in Mumbai tomorrow, it was felt that the cricket body was not justified in threatening legal action against what it termed offending channels.

ICC President Sharad Pawar had this evening agreed to lift the bar on news coverage of the World Cup bowing to national outrage, but ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat said legal action would be considered against offending Indian news channels which have repeatedly breached the News Access Guidelines for Broadcasters for the World Cup.       
It is learnt that Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni’s plea to her cabinet colleague and ICC President Sharad Pawar also played a role in the final decision.

A news channel executive on condition of anonymity said the tangle on which talks broke down between the ICC on the one hand and the News Broadcasters Association and the Broadcast Editors Association on the other was a very minor issue which was not in the hands of the news channels since the score boards were not put up at the instance of the news channels.

Earlier, the news channels were allowed to cover the world cup semi-final between India and Pakistan after ICC lifted the ban on accredited journalists from the news channels for a day following intervention by Soni.

The BEA had said earlier today that the decision of ICC to withdraw the accreditation of journalists covering Cricket World Cup matches is not only against this interest but also in contravention of the rights of the citizens to be informed. "We tried our best to make the ICC understand this but the recalcitrant attitude of the latter rendered our efforts sterile in the past three days," BEA said.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the I&B Ministry feels that the dispute – which centres around display of scoreboards with sponsor logos by the news channels – is a very minor issue and should not hold up coverage of the final tomorrow as both President Pratibha Devisingh Patil and Sri Lankan President Mahindra Rajapaksa are expected to be present.

Ministry sources say that the "the ball is in Sharad Pawar’s court" and he has to take a decision.

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