Sport organisers commercial rights cannot determine Press Freedom
Andrew Moger, Chief Executive of the News Media Coalition (NMC), told participants at a major European policy forum which included sport policy makers and representatives from Council of Europe Member States that the News Media must have the fullest possible opportunities for newsgatherers to witness events to create their own content to inform the public.
Andrew Moger highlighted to the NMC’s Media Freedom Charter which he said should be reflected in the new European Sports Charter.
In his presentation Andrew said that the Council of Europe’s focus on media freedom in sport is vital one as it gives an opportunity to consider the role and value of media role in sport. Andrew pointed out that one only must look at the headlines over the last few days, in the context of world tennis, but throughout the sports calendar and across the cycles of staging of mega events and media rights, to see the contribution the Press make to sport transparency, dialogue about sport and also to change in society.
Andrew made clear that the NMC seeks to work with stakeholders in the sport context to ensure professional journalism is safeguarded and allowed to flourish. He emphasised that the NMC uniquely focuses on the practical day-to-day level to ensure that supportive public policy and standards on media freedom play out positively for sports journalists, photographers and video journalists operating in and outside of sports venues.
Moving onto what the Council of Europe can do to support media freedom in sport, Andrew recalled that the sports ministers agreed a resolution which referenced the importance of media freedom. Whilst this is encouraging –there are two concerns. The resolution states that ensuring media freedom is to be ‘within the boundaries of sports competitions organisers’ property rights’ and the NMC is concerned that reports about news, sport organisations themselves, would be subject to the commercial properties said to belong to that sport. Secondly the media freedom mentioned is to be ‘in accordance with the principles of proportionality’. What is that proportionality in a media freedom context and who would determine it.
There should also be the scope within the European Sports Charter for media freedom to be recognised and safeguarded.