CMA Awards 2020: Associated Press Not Covering Event Due to Access Dispute

by Jennifer Shea

The Associated Press yanked its coverage of the 2020 CMA Awards after event organizers barred an AP photographer from the Nashville ceremony.

The CMA also refused to let the AP use screenshots of the event that show guests seated in the audience, The Wrap reported. 

Associated Press Cites Its Standards

AP entertainment editor Anthony McCartney released a statement on the dispute. He said the restrictions prevent them from accurately covering the event.

“The AP covers award shows as news events and we must be able to assure the public that the information they are receiving from us is accurate,” he said. “By denying independent news organizations, including AP, access to take images of a publicly broadcast event, the CMA Awards is infringing upon the news media’s ability to tell the full story of the event.”

As a result, the AP will not write about, take images of or shoot video of the show, the AP reported.

The 2020 CMA Awards are taking place at Music City Center in Nashville. Nominees, performers and their guests are all converging on the convention center for the event.

CMA Cites Coronavirus Restrictions

Organizers reportedly cited coronavirus precautions as the reason for barring an AP photographer. They offered instead to have the AP license images of the show. That typically means the AP would pay them for images. 

The AP declined. The CMA said it was not trying to profit from the images.

So the CMA offered to let the AP take screenshots of the broadcast if they excluded images of guests. The AP said no. If it covers an event, it must be without restrictions on images that are publicly broadcast.

The AP ultimately sent out an advisory to its members. It said event organizers have stopped the wire service from covering the ceremony “to its standards.”

Meanwhile, CMA Awards Executive Producer Robert Deaton released a statement earlier this month. He said show organizers were trying to provide an escape from challenging times.

“Safety is our top priority,” he added. He said the “breathtaking setup” at the convention center “ensures our nominees, performers and their guests a fully safe and physically distant environment.”