“Accredited photographers and camerapersons will not be permitted to carry and use their equipment inside the venue.”
When this was mentioned in the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI's) media statement detailing arrangements for Tuesday's opening ceremony of the Indian Premier League in Chennai, the first impression it gave was whether the BCCI/IPL organisers were playing a Fools' Day prank on journalists.
However, as it panned out, the IPL authorities were serious about setting the conditions. And in many ways, the IPL/ BCCI bigwigs had little say in the decision, since it was the event managers (Wizcraft) who had sold the photography rights exclusively to an agency.
With the IPL being a private event, they can justify the decision to allot entry to the media. Since the statement also clarifies that 'limited' photographs will be allowed to be downloaded by every media house, even the fans will be deprived of reliving the opening ceremony in the papers the day after.
But this also means that if there is a goof-up during the gala night, fans will not be able to see those pictures the day after. After all, the organisers will choose what to put out in public domain.
The vindictive attitude of the organisers is reminiscent of the days of former IPL chairman, Lalit Modi, whose strict media coverage restrictions had created a furore ahead of the first two IPL seasons.
Modi learnt his lesson the hard way that you 'discount media at your own peril'. We hope the current regime is wiser by the experience. Access or no access, if there's a goof-up, there would be no escape from the preying eyes of the media.