International media boycott rugby World Cup

6th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 6, 2007 (AFP) - Leading international news agencies on Thursday launched a boycott of the 2007 rugby World Cup, plunging the event into controversy on the eve of its opening game.

PARIS, Sept 6, 2007 (AFP) - Leading international news agencies on Thursday launched a boycott of the 2007 rugby World Cup, plunging the event into controversy on the eve of its opening game.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters, the Associated Press, Getty Pictures and the German agency DPA said no text, photo or video news on the World Cup would be sent for 24 hours in protest at restrictions imposed by the sport's governing body, on the transmission of photos during games.

The International Rugby Board (IRB) restrictions will particularly hit the use of action pictures on the internet.

"Fundamental rights are at stake, there is no question of letting them be flouted in the name of the protection of the financial interests of the IRB," said AFP chairman Pierre Louette.

AFP sent a note to its thousands of clients saying: "Negotiations on the coverage of the World Cup between the International Rugby Board (IRB) and an international media alliance including AFP are still deadlocked. Because of this, AFP has decided to join a boycott of the event."

The Reuters news agency insisted it was defending "editorial integrity".
"Reuters regrets this course of action. However, protecting the interests and coverage rights of our global client base is of key importance to Reuters," Monique Villa, managing director media, said in a statement.

"Amid growing confusion and uncertainty over reporting terms, and the IRB's unwillingness to engage with us to resolve the dispute over accreditation terms, Reuters is unable to continue coverage as planned."

The protest action was to be reviewed by the agencies on Friday after new negotiations.
The international news agencies and the World Association of Newspapers strongly oppose conditions imposed by the organisers which allow just 50 photos to be transmitted during each match. This is made up of 20 photos per half and five for each half in any extra time.

At a meeting in Dublin on August 21, the IRB and international media agreed that one photo per second could be transmitted during World Cup games. This would allow 2,400 images per half with a maximum of 6,000 if there was extra time.

This is in line with agreements already made with the organisers of the Olympic Games and football's World Cup.

Rugby World Cup organisers have accused the media of staging a "misinformation campaign" over the dispute.

World Cup chairman Mike Miller told a press conference Wednesday: "We think our rules are fair to everyone, to those who pay for the privilege to buy certain rights which helps us reinvest in the game, and also to those who get to come along without paying any rights fees."

IRB president Syd Millar said the World Cup was expected to earn 90 million pounds (133 million euros) for the IRB.

But the AFP chairman said the IRB's action came after years of mounting restrictions on journalists in their coverage of major sporting events.

"This matter underlines the desire by some organisers to have almost complete control, even if this is to the detriment of real freedom to inform," said Louette.

"The drastic restriction on the number of photos that our clients can use on the internet -- even if the IRB has changed the figure a little from 10 to 40 -- is still unacceptable. We have said this again and again to the IRB."

Louette also called for the IRB to ease working conditions for video journalists covering matches.

"The sport of rugby, good coverage worldwide, and even sponsors, deserve a little more effort."

The agencies are also seeking a clarification of a clause which allows the IRB to use their photos for promotional reasons without recourse.

AFP and its competitors distribute text, photos, video and graphics to thousands of newspapers and media organisations around the world.


Subject: French news

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