SYDNEY (AFP) Media groups and Australian sports bodies signed a code of conduct on Tuesday aimed at ending years of disputes and boycotts over press coverage of major sporting events. The voluntary code, believed to be the first of its kind in the world, scraps a number of reporting restrictions which sports administrations had imposed, leaving news agencies unable to cover cricket and Australian Rules Football matches. Australias leading sports bodies and media organisations including Agence France-Presse (AFP) signed the document, which was backed by the government and brokered by the countrys competition watchdog. The row centred on restrictions on the use of sports news and images on the Internet, including attempts to limit the number of updates and the sites eligible to use sports images, as well as availability on mobile platforms. Media that did not agree to the restrictions, which they regarded as an infringement of press freedom, were unable to cover sports such as cricket. There have been issues between some sporting and media organisations and several media agencies have been unable to gain access to major sporting events for the purpose of reporting the news, said Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. The government was concerned that these breakdowns in communication would adversely affect the Australian publics traditional access to news reporting of sporting events. The code, which all Australian sports bodies will be asked to sign, ensures media are able to report freely on sports events, and sets up a committee to resolve future disputes. Cricket Australia, the Australian Football League (AFL), the Australian Rugby Union, the National Rugby League and Tennis Australia are all core signatories, along with AFP, Fairfax Media, News Limited, Australian Associated Press and Getty Images. The sports bodies won assurances that media groups would not use photographs or text taken at events for commercial purposes beyond news reporting. Former International Olympic Committee vice president Kevan Gosper, who was appointed to chair the codes administration committee, said the signing of the code was a very good outcome. Positions have been properly defined ... in such a way where the media is able to clearly sustain its freedom to send news and information and pictures out to the public, and the sporting organisations recognise this is in their interest. Theres been a clear definition of what is commercial (use) and what is news, he told the AAP news agency. The News Media Coalition, a grouping of the press organisations, called the code a welcome and constructive basis for working with sports bodies. Throughout the deliberations... news organisations have sought to protect the interests of the public in accessing independent and topical journalistic coverage, including photography, a coalition statement said. We trust that the code will enable this fundamental function of the independent news media to continue to operate without the fear of unnecessary or arbitrary restrictions on their operations. The dispute, seen as a test case for press freedom in the digital age, has also arisen elsewhere including in relation to the Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket competition. Cricket Australia welcomed the agreement, which resolves a boycott by international press agencies ahead of the 2010-2011 home Ashes series against England. The AFL declined to comment when contacted by AFP. Like all codes it seeks to balance the interests of all parties and were keen that it do that, said CA spokesman Peter Young. What were really keen on doing is getting on with the business of staging cricket matches and exciting the Australian public about them, and we need media coverage to do that.