New Delhi/Mumbai, Apr 1: The ICC tonight lifted the ban on news television channels covering the world cup finals following intervention by Information and Broadcasting Ministry, but will seek legal action against them for alleged violation of media guidelines.
"...the ICC has decided to commence legal action against the companies involved and will also seek to recover damages through the courts in India rather than bar the stations from the ICC Cricket World Cup final," cricket's global governing body said in a statement.
Earlier this morning, representatives of the channels, who had gone to attend the pre-match press conferences of the rival captains and ICC President Sharad Pawar in Mumbai were barred from covering the events.
A similar ban was imposed on the channels before the Indo-Pak semi-finals at Mohali and was lifted on the day of the match.
The I and B Ministry took up the issue with the ICC on behalf of the broadcasters specially a day after the cricket body was given tax exemption by the Union Government on its incomes in the world cup.
The ICC statement in the evening said it has decided to begin legal proceedings against "offending" Indian news channels who have "repeatedly breached" the News Access Guidelines for Broadcasters for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
Despite a lengthy meeting at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in New Delhi, the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) and the Broadcast Editors Association (BEA) refused to give assurances that they would desist from breaching the broadcast guidelines in their news programming, it said.
Haroon Lorgat, the ICC Chief Executive, said: "I am very disappointed that it has come to this. However, we need to do everything to protect our exclusive commercial rights and those of our partners. If that means we have to resort to legal action, that is regrettable but necessary".
"At the Ministry's request, we travelled to New Delhi to meet with the NBA and BEA in an attempt to resolve the issue but they were unfortunately not willing to conform to the guidelines agreed with the ICC prior to the event," he added.
"To ensure that there is no misunderstanding it is important for me to repeat that the News Access Guidelines for Broadcasting the ICC Cricket World Cup were issued in January 2011 and all news broadcasters were reminded of these Guidelines in a letter from the ICC on 27 January," he said.
The ICC said accreditations were issued to the reporters and cameramen on the condition that these guidelines were observed.
Subsequently those guidelines were breached on several occasions, particularly in respect of the "blatant commercialisation" of ICC World Cup footage and proprietary data by certain news broadcasters.
"In the interests of the event, we have agreed to reinstate their accreditation for the final match of this hugely successful World Cup. However, following a number of written warnings to the channels concerned, it is now time for the ICC to act through the courts," the statement said.
Sources in the Ministry said I and B Minister Ambika Soni had taken up the matter with the ICC, including its President Pawar telling them the deadlock with the news channels was "not that big an issue which could not be overcome".
The ICC is understood to have told her then that since Doordarshan has access to the footage, there was no problem in airing the match for Indian people.
Despite marathon negotiations to resolve the matter last night, the News Broadcasters' Association (NBA) and the ICC could not reach an agreement on terms of coverage. The TV channels, had faced a similar ban ahead of the semifinals between India and Pakistan in Mohali before Soni had stepped in to help their cause.
The Broadcast Editors' Association (BEA) and the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) had then approached the Information and Broadcasting (I and B) ministry on the matter following which Soni had stepped in.
The news media had then been allowed inside the venue at Mohali after the Minister signed an undertaking that the issue would be resolved in a meeting later. The said meeting was held yesterday but the two sides could not reach a compromise. PTI