Sydney - Australia's largest newspaper publisher is threatening to boycott Rugby World Cup match venues, saying it cannot agree to accreditation terms which restrict online coverage of the September 9-October 23 tournament in New Zealand.
News Ltd. group editorial director Campbell Reid told the company's national newspaper, The Australian, that media accreditation terms were too restrictive.
"Our ability to cover the event is better if we don't sign the accreditation," Reid said. "It is about freedom of speech and our ability to make decisions on what is news."
Reid said News Ltd., owned by global media giant News Corporation, objects to restrictions on the duration of video highlights it is permitted to use in online formats and what markets have access to the content in the digital media.
But the International Rugby Board said negotiations were ongoing.
"As far as the IRB is concerned there is no stalemate over aspects of Rugby World Cup news access for certain Australian media outlets," The Australian quoted an unnamed IRB spokesman as saying.
"Further planned discussions will take place and the IRB is committed to a continuation of discussions with the Australian Newspaper Publishers Association and its stakeholders to find a workable way forward."
A dispute over terms and conditions for accreditation almost triggered a widespread media boycott of the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, with contentious issues settled only in the hours immediately before kickoff in the opening match at Paris.
Disputes between sports organizers and news organizations have escalated with the development of the internet, with the main issue being control over online content recorded at match venues.
For two seasons, global news agencies including The Associated Press withheld coverage of international cricket matches in Australia because of reporting restrictions contained in accreditation agreements.
The long running impasse in Australia was resolved last year following a Parliamentary inquiry and the intervention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which helped devise a voluntary code of conduct which outlines the rights and obligations of sporting and media organizations over the provision of access to sporting venues and the collection and reporting of sports news.