Sun, Sep 09, 2007 - Page 24 News List

RUGBY WORLD CUP: Last minute deal leads to resumption of coverage

AP , PARIS

International news agencies resumed coverage of the Rugby World Cup on Friday -- just 90 minutes before the opening match of the tournament -- after progress in negotiations with the sport's governing body over media restrictions.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters, and the Associated Press suspended their coverage of the event on Thursday because of the dispute with the International Rugby Board (IRB).

Negotiations centered on the number of photos news organizations can display online during a match and the length of video clips of non-match coverage they can post online.

In talks on Friday, the IRB agreed that agencies can transmit 200 photographs during each World Cup game at a maximum of one photo per 30 seconds.

Previously, the IRB and World Cup organizers had set a limit of 40 photos per match and a further 10 if the matches go into extra time.

Both sides in the dispute agreed that photos sent to Web sites "should not be presented in a way which `emulates video.'"

Media organizations and rugby officials agreed to meet tomorrow to further discuss relaxing limits on video.

In the meantime, the agencies returned to work in time to cover Friday night's opener, in which Argentina pulled off an upset 17-12 defeat of France.

"Were glad to be getting back to doing our jobs. It's not a completely done deal until the video details are ironed out Monday," said Dave Tomlin, the AP's associate general counsel for news.

"But we're optimistic that with the kind of effort and good faith being shown on both sides today we will be covering the whole Cup series. Keep your fingers crossed," he said.

AFP's head of sports, Pierre Pointeau, confirmed that the French agency had resumed normal text and photo coverage.

Monique Villa, Reuters managing director of media, also confirmed that the agency had lifted its coverage blackout. Getty Images also was resuming its coverage, said Alison Crombie, senior director of public relations.

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