In the UK, publishing titles represented by the NMC include the Daily Mail, Evening Standard, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Sun, The Times and their sister Sunday titles, online versions, and numerous regional and local titles.
The NMC is also supported by other trade organisations such as the UK’s News Media Association and affiliates with other trade organisations around the world.
The NMC is however the only international trade organisation specialising in the field of securing access to sports events for newsgatherers (reporters, photographers and news video journalists), access to information about sport and ensuring newsrooms can operate without arbitrary content restrictions.
The Summary of Concerns for the NMC
In reference to this Committee’s Objectives
Answers to Committee Questions
Independent journalism is a major driver for people of all backgrounds being informed about sporting events, thereby not only generating interest in sport performance but participation in sport. A single story about an athlete setting a record, a new trend in personal training, a player who has overcome adversity can create heightened interest in sport which can lead to individual participation: club membership, attendance at a sports fixture and a determination to say: ‘I can do that’. News Media coverage of sports participants – at all levels - from under-represented groups, including women sport, ethnic minorities, para-sports, etc can inspire participation of others. There is a willingness and desire by the News Media covering sport to report more on less high-profile sport as well as lionise the best. However, the News Media’s ability to report more extensively on top-events, including amateur levels. and therefore to encourage participation in sport, can be impeded at the root of Press involvement by contractual obligations and other limits imposed on newsgatherers.
Q.6. How can racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and ableism in sport be tackled?
News Media reporting on sport has an integral role in dealing with society’s ills - tackling racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and ableism. News reports of acts of intolerance in stadia, newsgatherers challenge leaders in society, government and governing bodies in sport to take action in improving the sporting environment. This is reinforced by leading political figures. Krasen Kralev, Bulgarian minister for sport and youth, recently described the vital role of the News Media in independently reporting on the positive and negative aspects of sport. Speaking after Bulgarian football fans taunted English players during a qualifying match for the UEFA European Championships, he told the NMC website: ‘We need the support of media to make sports popular and show all advantages that the sport will give to the kids and also in the fight against doping and match fixing; we rely very much on their support otherwise we cannot do the job.’
Q.8. What are the opportunities and challenges facing elite sports in the UK and what can be done to make national sports governing bodies more accountable? For example, accountability for representing and protecting their membership, promoting their sport and maximising participation.
There is an opportunity for the sports world to better recognise the value that the News Media brings to all sport’s stakeholders and to introduce more openness including allowing the News Media to report with greater freedom. This is recognised to some degree in the sporting world. For example, the prominent Championship manager Nigel Pearson very recently supported “objective, honest” reporting and warned about the impact of in-house club information, conveying only the perspective of football clubs.
Mr Pearson made the comments to journalism students at Leicester’s De Montfort University. Discussing his relationship with the Press, Mr Pearson told the students: “If I’m doing a press conference or any interviews, I know the ground rules: I’ve got a job to do and so have you. “I’ve sat in some press conferences and been grilled by very tenacious, well-prepped, well-read journalists who know their stuff.” https://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2021/news/football-manager-compares-club-controlled-journalism-to-communist-state/
As explained above, independent news reporting is central to improved governance, integrity, transparency in sport and in relation to issues of public funding of sport. Therefore, a new governmental strategy on sport should include markers setting out how greater News Media freedom could be fostered.
Q.10. Should there be a national plan for sport and recreation? Why/why not?
Any national plan for sport and recreation must consider the needs and requirements of the independent News Media in reporting on sport. Given the importance of the News Media sector retaining its independence from overarching regulation, great care must be exercised in identifying solutions to the media freedom challenges described above.
We do believe there is a role for all sectors of society (governmental, commercial, sporting and at an individual level) actively to support this.
We invite the House of Lords to take these responses into consideration.
The Importance of News Media in Sport’s COVID-19 Recovery has been evident since the start of the pandemic. Publishers and News Agencies in the UK and across Europe have taken a leading role throughout the COVID emergency in helping reconnect sports fans with their favourite teams and players. They have done so through their independent journalism and newsroom operations in extremely difficult circumstances – attending sports venues, in smaller numbers, and providing visibility of the wider sport community.
Behind the scenes, the News Media Coalition (NMC) and Members have introduced innovative ways of covering sport and have agreed to public health protocols including temporary reduction in numbers of ‘Press’ in venues. Where attendance by reporters, photographers and news video crews has been impossible, the news media have even shared informational content created by sports organisations themselves.
Actions of the News Media sector (non-rights holding news publishers and news agencies) have provided much-needed economic boost to sport - and provided citizens with early signs of returning societal normality. But the News Media which ordinarily produce millions of pieces of independent news material throughout local, regional and international sport calendars needs policymaker recognition and support.
NMC’s Media Freedom Charter
The following charter points seek to establish a forward-looking environment for the News Media’s societal role in relation to sport to flourish and to remain highly relevant to sport and public alike.
1. Respect for the Value of the News Media
Supporting the role and values – both societal and economic – of the News Media within Event Organisers’ media policies. This should include engaging with the News Media ahead of and during the preparation of clear policies impacting the News Media, such as Terms and Conditions of venue entry. The ability of the News Media to report freely benefits all stakeholders including event organisers, sponsors, other commercial partners, participants and fans.
2. Freedom to Report
No requirement that the News Media pay to report on the news or that the content they create be subject limitations on when, where, how much and in what form it is created - published or distributed to news consumers. Recognition of the freedom of the News Media to rely on laws or other legitimate means governing use of third-party content.
3. Independence of News
Editorial integrity is critical. This is undermined if an event organisation seeks control over independent news reports generally, as a condition of attendance by newsgatherers at events or by forcing the News Media to enter into commercial content agreements.
4. Access to Events and Information
The News Media must have the fullest possible opportunities for newsgatherers to attend events of high public and news interest – including any designated press or media events.
5. Official Content
If content is produced and provided by event organisations in lieu of press access (e.g. if there are genuine issues of security, public health or space constraints) this event material is to be readily available, free, newsworthy, editable and not subject to restrictions on editorial publication or distribution. Official material of this kind is not a substitute for independent.
6. Ability to Innovate
As technologies and news consumption evolve, the News Media are to be encouraged to innovate around methods of news-gathering and content publishing, distribution and other forms of sharing news. News must flow as fast as technologies allow.
7. Copyright Integrity
No news organisation is to be forced to give up or assign its copyright/IP to an event organisation. Event organisations will have their own IPRs but cannot assert that they own ‘all rights’ related to an event.
8. Content Clarity
Event media policies and rules are to clearly distinguish between content created by news organisations and material produced by event organisations themselves or by partners. When issued, such ‘official’ continents to be accompanied by appropriate credit/labelling in the interests of clarity regarding the source.
9. Platform and Territory Neutrality
News content created in venues by the News Media is not to be subject to different rules set by event organisations in relation to the form of editorial use, platform (print, online, mobile or broadcast) or type (mainstream or social media) or territory (geo-blocking).
10. Durability of News
The historical news record of events is not to be undermined by event rules stating how long news material can be used – or reused. News content is not to have a ‘shelf-life’ determined by an event organisation, third party or any individual who is the subject of news.
11. Ability to Monetise News Content
A viable News Media sector needs to monetise the content it creates to recoup its costs and event organisations should help foster a strong independent News Media. Through their media policies, event organisations are to acknowledge the importance of News Media business freedoms to create, publish, distribute and share content and promote their news coverage, in parallel with a vibrant commercial media rights market.
22 February 2021