AN INTERNATIONAL media body representing SA’s interests on Fifa’s media committee has warned media organisations to read accreditation documents for sports events clearly before allowing journalists to sign them, as they could bind the whole institution, writes Chantelle Benjamin in Business Day.

The South African Media Interest Group, made up of members of the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) and industry body Print Media SA, has raised its concerns through the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) — a body representing news associations and agencies worldwide — about the terms and conditions imposed by World Cup owner Fifa for coverage of this year’s event. They believe these restrict media freedom.

Larry Kilman, WAN’s director of communications and public affairs, said sport organisers were increasingly trying to control content to ensure they received maximum benefit. WAN started dealing with the issue in 2005 after members complained about restrictions around sporting events, and has been negotiating with Fifa over relaxation of some of the terms since 2006.

Similar issues, led largely by news wire services, were raised around restrictions by Cricket Australia and the Indian Premier League.

“Sport organisations want to define newspapers as print only and sell digital platforms separately with different rates so they can benefit from both mediums,” Kilman said.

Many of Fifa’s restrictions consequently relate to new media and digital platforms. Kilman said gone were the days when accreditation for a sports event meant signing a form and getting a media pass.

“Accreditation documents are now legal contracts and editors of newspapers should have them seen by legal counsel before they are signed. It could reflect on the strategic application of the media institute.” He said groups like Sanef were vital to keep debate and negotiations around those restrictions alive.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.