Media threaten World Cup boycott

SOME of Australia's biggest newspapers and online news sites are threatening to boycott the Rugby World Cup, saying its coverage rules are too restrictive.

New Zealand publishers are close to signing a deal, but they say the International Rugby Board has "dropped the ball" on the issue of website coverage.

Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd has refused to agree to accreditation terms for journalists on its Australian papers because it says IRB demands are restrictive.

News Ltd - part of Mr Murdoch's global media giant News Corporation - publishes the Australian, Sydney's Daily Telegraph, Melbourne's Herald Sun and Brisbane's Courier Mail, and runs the website.

The Australian said the company would "boycott" the World Cup and instead cover matches from outside game venues - a move it said would be a blow to sponsors.

"The IRB has demanded news organisations agree to accreditation terms that would restrict newspaper websites to running just 90 seconds of World Cup highlight videos, require them to be taken down after 48 hours and have geographical blocks to stop people outside Australia accessing them," reported the Australian.

News Ltd group editorial director Campbell Reid said agreeing to the terms set by the IRB could set a dangerous precedent that could damage newspapers' ability to cover sporting events.

Rugby World Cup 2011 communications manager Mike Jaspers said decisions about media rights and News Ltd's allegation about the negative effect on sponsors were being handled by the IRB.

He said 2500 media representatives had agreed to the accreditation terms.

An IRB spokesman denied the board and the Australian newspapers were deadlocked over the issue. The IRB was committed to finding a "workable way forward".

The Newspaper Publishers Association in New Zealand was yesterday close to a deal that includes many of the terms News Ltd finds objectionable.

Association chief executive Tim Pankhurst said that although online video footage of matches would be limited to 90 seconds, there was a proviso that this could be extended for news events.

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