iOS app Android app More

News Agencies Drop Rugby Event Blackout

stumbleupon: News Agencies Drop Rugby Event Blackout   digg: US Works With Sudan Government Suspected Of Aiding Genocide   reddit: News Agencies Drop Rugby Event Blackout News Agencies Drop Rugby Event Blackout

MIKE CORDER | September 7, 2007 07:33 PM EST | AP

Compare other versions »

PARIS — International news agencies resumed coverage of the Rugby World Cup on Friday _ just 90 minutes before the tournament's opening match _ after progress in negotiations with the sport's governing body over media restrictions.

The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse suspended their coverage of the event Thursday because of the dispute with the International Rugby Board.

Negotiations centered on the number of photos news organizations can display online during a match and the length of video clips of non-match coverage they can post online.

In talks Friday, the IRB agreed that agencies can transmit 200 photographs during each World Cup game at a maximum of one photo per 30 seconds.

Previously, the IRB and World Cup organizers had set a limit of 40 photos per match and a further 10 if the matches go into extra time.

Both sides in the dispute agreed that photos sent to Web sites "should not be presented in a way which 'emulates video.'"

Media organizations and rugby officials agreed to meet Monday to further discuss relaxing limits on video.

In the meantime, the agencies returned to work in time to cover Friday night's opener, in which Argentina upset France 17-12.

"We're glad to be getting back to doing our jobs. It's not a completely done deal until the video details are ironed out Monday," said Dave Tomlin, the AP's associate general counsel for news. "But we're optimistic that with the kind of effort and good faith being shown on both sides today we will be covering the whole Cup series. Keep your fingers crossed."

AFP's head of sports, Pierre Pointeau, confirmed the French agency had resumed normal text and photo coverage.

Monique Villa, Reuters' managing director of media, also confirmed the agency had lifted its coverage blackout. Getty Images also was resuming its coverage, said Alison Crombie, senior director of public relations.

France's minister for culture and information, Christine Albanel, welcomed the agreement and said she hopes future talks will produce "a genuine balance that respects the work of journalists and the interests of partners and of organizers."

The 20-team tournament, held across France as well as in cities in Wales and Scotland, runs until the Oct. 20 final in Paris.

Key newspapers had showed their solidarity with the coalition Friday by refusing to print any photos from World Cup events that required accreditation.

"Rather than demonstrate that the sport has come of age, the dispute demonstrates how far rugby has to go to be a commercially mature sport," Paul Kelso wrote in Friday's edition of British paper The Guardian.

French sports daily L'Equipe published a special World Cup supplement Friday without a single image from Thursday's pre-tournament events. Usually, the paper would be full of photos of teams training and of publicity events, but Friday's supplement only used photos from its archives.

In a message to readers on the front page of the supplement, L'Equipe said it was "associating itself with this movement."

"Our pages of rugby today do not contain any news pictures," the paper wrote, adding that among events it did not publish photos of was a meeting between French soccer star Zinedine Zidane and New Zealand fly half Daniel Carter.

The dispute reflected a trend among sports leagues and event organizers toward ever tighter restrictions on the use that journalists can make of their own stories, photos, audio and video, Tomlin said.

The global coalition was organized to challenge that trend. News organizations believe that the tighter restrictions are part of efforts by some sports organizers to engage in publishing ventures of their own and stifle competition.