By Gary Anderson
April 26 – Organisers of the Glasgow 2014 are set to press ahead with controversial plans to charge journalists to use the internet at the Commonwealth Games despite growing criticism from the international press at the cost of covering the event.
Last month, Glasgow 2014 announced there will be a one-off £95 ($158/€115) charge for wi-fi and a £70 ($116/€85) charge for access to the MyGamesINFO service for journalists, while photographers will have to pay up to £265 ($440/€320).
That led to fierce criticism from the President of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) Gianni Merlo, who accused Glasgow 2014 of “living in the past century” and “not in line with the times”, and called for organisers to “rethink their decision”.
Glasgow 2014 chief executive David Grevemberg justified the decision by insisting that in order to provide a quality service, charges had to be applied considering the Games are 80 per cent publicly funded and that the internet services on offer will be the most comprehensive at any Commonwealth Games to date.
AIPS Executive Committee member, Evelyn Watta, has joined the chorus of criticism at the planned charges describing them as “inexcusable” and has accused Glasgow 2014 of being “bent on profiteering” from the more than 1,500 journalists expected to cover the event.
Watt, who is from Kenya, also revealed that Merlo put these concerns directly to Scotland’s Sports Minister Shona Robison, who is also the Commonwealth Games Minister, at the SportAccord International Convention in Belek earlier this month.
Merlo claims that Robison was sympathetic to his concerns and promised to raise them with Glasgow 2014.
With the deadline for applications for internet rate cards for the Games having passed on April 11 and invoices already sent out to journalists, Watta said AIPS has not heard back from Robison or Glasgow 2014 since.
When the charges were first revealed, a Glasgow 2014 spokesman told insidethegames: “Glasgow 2014 provides a range of products and services to assist the media with their operations across multiple venues during the Games, from reliable and secure wireless internet access to high quality robust cabled services for the upload and transfer of large files and all inclusive of 24/7 technical support.”
When contacted by insidethegames about the latest round of criticism, Glasgow 2014 said the planned charges were still going ahead and had no further comment to make on the situation.
There was also widespread criticism prior to London 2012 when it was revealed that journalists had to pay for internet packages costing £90 ($143/€104) per month for bronze, £130 ($207/€150) for silver and £150 ($239/€173) for gold – the most comprehensive service.
Things changed at the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games when the media and press had free internet access for the first time in history.