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Aussie Media Groups to Boycott World Cup

SYDNEY ( Rugby Heaven/Pacific Media Watch): In an unprecedented move, Australia's leading news media organisations have informed the International Rugby Board that they will not be seeking accreditation to cover the World Cup in New Zealand, the Fairfax Stuff website reports.

Rupert Murdoch's News Limited organisation revealed last month that it would not send journalists and photographers to the tournament and today Fairfax Australia, publisher of major titles such as the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age, and the Australian Associated Press agency both announced they also would not seek accreditation.

In a statement issued by Australia's Newspaper Publishers' Association, all three media organisations criticised the IRB for its ''restrictive'' media accreditation agreement which places significant restrictions on advertising associated with online news reporting.

Despite negotiations since February to solve the impasse, the tournament has become a flashpoint for international media drawing a line in the sand over increasingly prohibitive terms and conditions for access to matches and teams.

The Australian NPA acknowledged the ''regrettable'' boycott of accreditation terms and conditions was unprecedented and it was disappointing that the action had to be taken against a world tournament being played in the South Pacific.

''But that perhaps underlines how strongly the news-gathering business in Australia is taking this issue,'' said NPA chief executive Mark Hollands.

Newspaper publishers and the IRB disagree over two issues, said Hollands.

''The IRB believes newspaper publishers should be restricted in the quantity of video they may use for reporting news on digital platforms,'' he said.

''Publishers' rights to use video to report news is permitted under the fair dealing exemption of the Copyright Act. Publishers are not prepared to contractually sign away these rights.''

He added that the IRB is also demanding newspaper publishers should not be able to place any advertisements to accompany news coverage, clips of match highlights or other journalism about the tournament.

The development is a blow to the World Cup and Australian rugby as it will result in restricted news coverage of the code's premier tournament.

World Cup boss Martin Snedden is in Australia as the news of the accreditation boycott breaks. He and Sports Minister Murray McCully are attempting to drive up interest across the Tasman.

Wallabies supporters are seen as the most prized fan group to target for last minute World Cup ticket and tour packages.

Reduced media coverage will not help keep the World Cup in the faces of Australian news readers, or assist Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O'Neill who is looking at the tournament as a major chance to boost his code's profile in the face of aggressive competition from Australian Football and rugby league.

Meanwhile, Fairfax Media New Zealand has clarified that it has sought accreditation for the tournament and the position taken by Australian media would not impact on its coverage for New Zealand and international rugby fans.

''We've reached an accommodation with the IRB that will allow us to cover the world cup as we wish to,'' explained Fairfax NZ managing editor of sport,Trevor McKewen.

''But that is not to say we don't hold similar concerns to our Australian colleagues. We do, and we are very disappointed with the IRB's attitude and its failure to recognise the value our news-gathering of its tournament brings to the game and its fans.

''However, we did not want to penalise our readers in regards to news coverage of the biggest sporting event to come to New Zealand.''

McKewen also indicated that the Major Event Management Act, agreed to by the NZ government in hosting the World Cup, was a factor in Fairfax NZ's decision.

''Quite frankly, some of the areas our Australian colleagues dispute with the IRB are areas taken out of our hands by the Act,'' he said.


Aussie Media Groups to Boycott World Cup

By Simon Plumb
(cc) Creative Commons


Pacific Media Watch Online

Pacific Media Watch is a media and educational resource compiled by the AUT Pacific Media Centre for the Pacific region.

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