News Access Rules in force for Rio 2016

With the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio now just a few days away it is timely to take a look at the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) News Access Rules. That is the rules that govern the reporting of the Olympic Games by non-rights holding television and radio media. The News Access Rules came into effect on 24 July and will apply until the closing of the Olympic Villages on 24 August 2016.

The rules essentially restrict non-rights holders on how they can broadcast Olympic material. The rules also state that “it is understood that any other form of broadcasting of Olympic Material of the Games by Non-RHBs, including all “E Accredited Media, whether via Internet, Mobile Platforms or otherwise, is strictly prohibited and is a breach of these NARs, subject to Section V…”. Section V of the rules relate to fair dealing provisions that may be available under local law.

The restrictions are based around limiting the amount of content per day a broadcaster can show and when during the day such content may be shown. To summarise, the rules are as follows:

  • Olympic content is restricted to use in news programs only, where a maximum of 6 minutes of content may be used each day;
  • Olympic content may not appear in more than three (3) news programs per day;
  • no more than two (2) minutes of content may be used in any one news program;
  • news programs must be separated by at least a period of three hours; and
  • no more than one-third or 30 seconds of any one Olympic event may be show (whichever is less), unless the total event (e.g. Men’s 100m sprint) is less than 15 seconds in length, in which case the whole event can be shown.

Further, while the above limits how much content can be shown, there is a further timing restriction in that content may only be broadcast by non-rights holders:

  • as of three (3) hours following the broadcast of an Olympic event by the local rights holder via any licensed broadcast platform in that territory; or
  • if no broadcast by the local rights holder via any licensed broadcast platform in that territory on the day (local time) during which the Olympic event concluded, then as of the end of such day (i.e. 24:00 hours local time).

Olympic content can only be used for a period of 48 hours following the completion of the actual Olympic event. The rules are essentially the same for radio broadcasters. All sports and all news networks still have a six (6) minute limit per day but with some slightly different usage restrictions.

To access content as a non-rights holder broadcaster, the non-rights holder must provide a written guarantee to the IOC that such entity will comply with all terms and conditions as set out in the News Access Rules. Also, the entity must ensure that content is geo-blocked and when broadcasting the material ensure that the local rights holder’s watermark is shown for the duration of the clip, or where there is no watermark include a video credit that reads: “Courtesy (Name of RHB)”.

With the digital broadcast age that we now live it, it is worth noting that the IOC has recognised that there are services that it did not previously have to provide rules for. For example, the News Access Rules provide that where an entity offers interactive news services (think Sky News Active) or VOD, Olympic content may not be included in such services as it may result in the time restrictions discussed above being exceeded.  Additionally, the use of Olympic content transformed into graphic animated formats such as animated GIFs (i.e. GIFV), GFY, WebM, or short video formats such as Vines and others, is expressly prohibited.

The News Access Rules are extensive and this is not surprising. Television and radio broadcasters around the world pay millions of dollars for rights to show what is arguably the biggest sporting event on earth and as such there is the need for the IOC to assist broadcasters in protecting the investment they have made.

To read the full rules, click here.



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