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Panpa Bulletin : July 2007
16 PANPA Bulletin July 2007 news NZ -- Top news organisations jointly send a rocket to the International Rugby Board over World Rugby Cup controls. By Warren Page Four leading New Zealand and Australian media interests have jointly sent a rocket to the International Rugby Board (IRB) over restrictions imposed on coverage of the Rugby World Cup this September. News Ltd, Fairfax Media Australia and New Zealand, APN New Zealand Publishing, and the national news agency New Zealand Press Association joined in the protest. Among other things, the IRB's accredita- tion rules restrict media companies from streaming onto their Internet news website any audio and video from a training session, game or post game conference. "We are disappointed that previ- ous discussions on a number of issues relating to your accreditation policy have failed to reach any agreement on issues of fundamental importance to full and unfettered news coverage of a major sport event," the big four said in their letter to IRB's chief executive officer Michael Miller. "In particular, we reject the IRB's notion, which has never before been asserted for a major sports event, that the 'fair dealing' or 'fair use' principle does not apply to audio-visual news coverage of matches, press conferences and training sessions on our news websites. "This position is completely at odds with the practices of other major international sports organisation such as the IOC, FIFA, Cricket Australia and the National Rugby League, all of whom acknowledge 'fair use' reporting in the online world. "While we understand the commercial considerations for the event through the sale of various rights streams, it is not within the power of an event promoter to sell rights beyond those which subsist at law," the protest letter said. "Accordingly, attempts to sell 'online rights' which include audio and audio- visual coverage of press conferences and training sessions while restricting our digital news coverage only to the printed word and still images is wholly out-of-step with the modern media world. "Such attempts to commercialise media conferences of major news events improp- erly interfere with our right to gather and publish news of public interest -- rights that are fully protected by law. "Fair dealing is a long-held principle of Australian copyright law and the recent interim ruling in the NRL coverage case in Australia specifically made clear that commercial players buying online rights must be expected to understand copyright law and the fair dealing exemptions." The four media organisations seek ur- gent discussions with the IRB to agree upon an amended media policy which allows the media to collect and disseminate news cov- erage of the World Cup while also respecting the IRB's legitimate commercial rights. "Our position is intended solely to pro- tect press freedom and the right of media organisation to deliver news -- no matter what the platform," the protestors told the IRB. They say this principle is supported by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human rights. "It is our preference to avoid a legal dispute," say the four media organisations. "However, this is a matter that the World Association of Newspapers, of which we are members, is also actively monitoring." The four signatories say in conclusion that they cannot understand why the IRB would contemplate digital media poli- cies that shut down enormous audiences throughout New Zealand and Australia. NZ -- IRB makes a concession on World Cup accreditation policy in face of publishers' threat. By Warren Page A threat by major New Zealand and Australian news organisations to refuse to apply for International Rugby Board ac- creditation to cover the Rugby World Cup (RWC) scored a limited victory. News Ltd, Fairfax Media Australia and New Zealand, APN New Zealand Publishing and the New Zealand Press Association news agency in a show of solidarity pur- posefully allowed the deadline for accredi- tation applications to pass. As well as that bold move, they fired off a "It is our preference to avoid a legal dispute. However ..." kind of letter to the IRB. (See story, above). These actions are part of a running pro- test against IRB accreditation restrictions. Images and audio from each match are strictly limited. A particular complaint is against a ban on news organisation websites using digital images or audio from events, like post- match news conferences, associated with but not part of actual World Cup games. As a result of the threat and the impact that would have on the sport, the IRB's the RWC Ltd initially re-opened opportunity for a limited time to apply for accredita- tion while they looked at the publishers' complaints. Then came a speedy conces- sion of sorts. The RWC's head of communications, Greg Thomas, said, "RWC Limited has decided to allow news organisations to include up to three minutes of audio/video content arising from non-match day activi- ties only on their news websites." That "non-match day activities only" part was queried and was confirmed to mean that the relaxed rules do not include coverage of such events on the day a match is played but only on days matches are not played. That means, as Wellington-based Newspaper Publishers Association chief ex- ecutive Lincoln Gould says, news organisa- tions' news websites still will not be allowed to provide digital/audio coverage of post match press conferences or presentation of the trophy. However, Gould says the relaxation of the rules pleases the publishers enough to have them start applying for accreditation. Gould said the publishers had told the IRB that they would continue to press for more opening of opportunity to cover the Rugby World Cup. However, Gould allows that such pressure may well apply to the run-up to New Zealand hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2011.
August September 2007