By Roslyn Morris, AIPS Secretary General
LAUSANNE, April 17, 2012 – There will be 5,800 accredited journalists in London to cover the 2012 Olympic Games and curiously, LOCOG has admitted in an email* sent to international media, that only 150 of them have ordered an internet package from the official rate card.
And not only has LOCOG admitted the slow take-up of the official internet packages, the email sent from LOCOGPressOperations@london2012.com informed journalists that the use of 3G Wi-Fi will not be approved for use in Olympic venues.
The AIPS President Gianni Merlo who expressed surprise at receiving the communiqué described London 2012’s internet policy as “tantamount to the restriction of trade, a restriction of the freedom of the press to choose a method of communication, and one which promotes a kind of monopoly”.
“To restrict the accredited media from using Wi-Fi 3G is unprecedented and we believe bordering on illegal. How can you stop journalists from using Wi-Fi 3G at the venues? This method of communication has become standard practice. The fact that, as LOCOG admits, ‘There are 5,800 individuals accredited but only 150 have ordered internet access’ is an indictment of the restrictive internet policy employed by LOCOG,” Merlo said.
For the past 18 months AIPS has campaigned for free internet access for accredited media in London.
Free internet access at high profile sports events at international championships and World Cups is now standard. The media has had access to free internet services at the FIFA World Cup 2010, the FIS Ski World Championships 2011, FINA World Swimming Championships 2011, IAAF World Championships in Athletics 2011, 2011 Pan American Games and the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships, 2012, among others.
The AIPS President urged LOCOG to reconsider its “short-sighted and monopolistic policy”.
“We believe that LOCOG should not make a profit from the media,” Merlo said.
Jayne Pearce, Head of Press Operations, London 2012 later responded saying that an email sent to international media Monday outlining that ”Wi-Fi 3G dongles, such as Mi-Fi, will not be approved for use in Olympic venues” was intended to help busy journalists and was part of LOCOG’s customer service. In an official statement Ms Pearce also said that Dongles, mobile and wireless devices are not banned.
Jayne Peace said : ”LOCOG reminded the media yesterday of internet rate card service(s) which can be activated ahead of the Games. These reminders are part of our on-going customer service as we know the media are incredibly busy. We have a number of planned communications to remind the media of the systems and processes they can organise now rather than wait until they arrive. None of the information is new. As a result of the email, hundreds of orders have come in. Dongles, mobile and wireless devices are not banned, we have however never recommended them as we have always strongly advised that cabled internet connectivity is the most reliable service to use”.