A balloon in the shape of a rugby ball is attached to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The Rugby World Cup kicks off today in France with the hosts facing Argentina. - Reuters
LEADING INTERNATIONAL news agencies suspended coverage of the rugby World Cup yesterday in a dispute with the tournament's organisers.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Associated Press and Getty Images announced they were suspending text, photographs and television coverage of pre-tournament events and training sessions.
The row with the tournament's organisers, the International Rugby Board (IRB), has become increasingly bitter in the run-up to the six-week tournament, which is due to open with a match between France and Argentina in Paris today.
The agencies, along with a worldwide coalition of newspaper groups, are concerned about Internet picture rights, television access and accreditation terms and have been frustrated by the organisers' reluctance to reach an agreement.
Reuters issued a statement yesterday advising its global client base of the suspension.
"Reuters regrets this course of action. However, protecting the interests and coverage rights of our global client base is of key importance to Reuters," Monique Villa, managing director Media, said in the statement.
"Amid growing confusion and uncertainty over reporting terms, and the IRB's unwillingness to engage with us to resolve the dispute over accreditation terms, Reuters is unable to continue coverage as planned.
"Reuters would like to resume coverage of the rugby World Cup, to provide the world's media with premium, timely text, photographs and TV. However, freedom of the press and our editorial integrity are at the core of our business, and these must be respected."
The tournament organisers, who accused media groups on Tuesday of staging "a misinformation campaign", say they have made concessions on all these areas but have retained the right t their terms and conditions at any time without consultation.