A leading newspaper publisher is claiming that the local and regional press have been denied access to next year’s Olympic Games.
The British Olympic Authority invited applications for passes from all UK media outlet last year for the 2012 Games which get under way next July.
But regional publisher Newsquest says it has allocated no passes to local or regional titles who will have to rely instead on syndicated material from the Press Association.
Now a number of Newsquest editors in London are writing to local MPs and London Assembly members demanding a review of the decision.
Andrew Parkes, group managing editor for Newsquest South and West London, said: “This has always been marketed as the ‘local games.’ All the way along the line, it has relied on the goodwill of Londoners who have paid for these Games.
“But the so-called local games will have no local media presence. The people who rely on us for their information will be told nothing about the event taking place on their doorsteps.”
“As things stand we simply can’t cover these Games properly and it’s plainly wrong that big media organisations, with no interest in the local perspective on these Games, will swan into their stadium seats on 27 July leaving us stood at the gate.”
The News Shopper in South London is among the Newsquest titles now publicly calling for a review of the decision.
Its editor Richard Firth said: “This was supposed to be the ultimate local event, but the local media have received a collective slap in the face.
“The BOA says it received thousands of accreditation applications from all over the world but we believe the local media should be allowed in to cover the Games from a local perspective.
“They’ve offered us generic material from a national news syndication service but that’s no good to our readers.
“We want to write the stories which will be of genuine interest but they’re stopping us.”
A BOA spokesman said 3,000 applications had been received for the 400 passes available but could not confirm whether any regional or local newspapers were amongst those who had been successful.
He said: “We had a media accreditation committee made up of individuals to represent types of newspapers and agencies to help with the allocations.
“The Press Association has been appointed as the host for national news, with that role comes all coverage of Great Britain sporting events.”
A second tranche of press places may be allocated but it is not known how many, on what basis they will be allocated or when it will be announced who will get them.
The Newspaper Society, which represents the local and regional press industry, had previously urged Games organisers not to forget the local press when allocating passes.
In July 2010 it held a meeting with Jayne Pearce, head of press operations at the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, to discuss plans for press access and accreditation, and also raised the issue informally with ministers.
At the meeting, the NS said the needs of the local and regional press should be given ‘considerable emphasis’ so the Games would be truly national, rather than just focused on London.
The NS said at the time that journalists from regional newspapers who wanted to be accredited should be given equal priority with other media applicants.