FIFA World Cup: Italians to charge fee from journalists for talking to players

Turin: The Italian football team is quite literally acting pricey at the World Cup, inviting the ire of journalists wanting to cover the four-time champions in Brazil.

The Italian Football Federation has imposed a fee for providing video news at press conferences in Brazil -- a move that has been condemned by editors, publishers and news agencies.

Mario Balotelli

The fee is being levied on news organisations such as TV news agencies which provide news video content to thousands of stations as well as to editorial websites.

The move by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) to charge TV news agencies and other press at national team press conferences is unprecedented at the World Cup. It has led to growing protests across the news media and was raised at a global news industry conference taking place here.

Andrew Moger, Executive Director of the News Media Coalition, said: "Charging for creating news is an assault on press freedom. A press conference, especially one involving a national side, is by its very nature an open press event.

"In fact the function of news agencies providing text and photographs or news video serve the interests of the team, its sponsors and the public through their established distribution networks and therefore exposure of the team, partners and players," he added.

"If the charges are left in place, coverage of team events away from the pitch by many thousands of TV outlets and news websites using news video will be damaged - and so will the experience of fan viewers who will be unable to see players and team managers before and after games."

The commercialisation of the press conference by the FIGC was raised as a serious matter of concern earlier this week at the World Newspaper Congress where more than 1,000 chief editors, publishers, CEOs, managing directors and other senior newspaper and news publishing executives were gathered to consider industry issues.

Larry Kilman, Secretary General of organisers World Association of News World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), commented: "It is unacceptable to ask news media to pay to cover legitimate news events."

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