Outcry over rugby press curbs

The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and a coalition of the world's leading news agencies are protesting against severe restrictions on press coverage of this year's Rugby World Cup in France.

The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and a coalition of the world's leading news agencies are protesting against severe restrictions on press coverage of this year's Rugby World Cup in France.

They say the restrictions imposed by the International Rugby Board "are a serious breach of freedom of the press".

And in a separate action, WAN and the news agencies have protested to the Australian Football League about its refusal to provide media accreditation to global and foreign news organisations for any games in this year's season.

The Australian league has announced the creation of its own agency, which will have the exclusive right to provide the media with images from its games.

The WAN told the International Rugby Board and the Australian Football League that its members would explore their legal options and inform event sponsors of "the very clear loss of exposure from which they will suffer owing to these restrictions".

"Your position reflects, frankly, a lack of understanding of the meaning of freedom of the press and of the nature of the modern news enterprise," WAN and the news agencies said in a letter to Mike Miller, chief executive and general secretary of the rugby board.

The board has severely limited publication of World Cup photos on the Internet, including on the web sites of thousands of newspapers, to a maximum of five still photos per half of a game and two photos shot during extra time.

It has also introduced editorial restrictions on how photographs can be used in print publications - banning the common practice of superimposing headlines and captions on photos if they obscure advertising shown in the images, for example - and has put severe limits on audiovisual content on websites and mobile devices.

The restrictions are imposed as a condition of access to the World Cup.

News media are obliged to accept them before gaining accreditation to the events, which are to be held in France in September. -Media24.com

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