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July 25, 2007
AIPS joins Rugby World Cup press freedom campaign

The Webb Ellis Trophy for the IRB’s Rugby World Cup, 2007 (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

LONDON, July 25, 2007 - AIPS has added its name to a list of international and influential media organizations who have written an open letter to the International Rugby Board expressing concern about the accelerating encroachment on freedom of the press.

The letter is the start of a campaign leading up to the Rugby World Cup in France in September and follows an initial forum which was hosted in London on June 25 by the Newspaper Publishers Association which represents the British national newspapers. The group has requested a meeting with the IRB to discuss accreditation for the World Cup and other issues.

More than 30 organizations from across the international media spectrum have signed the letter. One of the catalysts for the action was the extensive range of restrictions on free reporting being imposed by the International Rugby Board for the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

An open letter to the International Rugby Board

Mike Miller, Greg Thomas
The International Rugby Board
Dublin

July 25 2007

Dear Mr Miller and Mr Thomas,

As you may have seen in the press recently, a large and diverse group of news media around the world has formed a coalition to address the issue of restrictions on coverage imposed on the media by event organisers, particularly in sport, as part of the accreditation process. Our aim is to achieve a more ordered and properly negotiated framework for accreditation terms for major events, and to help event organisers by giving them a point of liaison representing a broad group of stakeholders worldwide.

I am writing on behalf of this coalition, members of which are detailed below, to request an urgent meeting with you to discuss the IRB accreditation terms for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup. As you are doubtless aware, the terms currently proposed are not acceptable to broad sections of the media and have not been negotiated and agreed with them. The fact that the media have in many cases submitted accreditation requests indicates their desire to cover the Rugby World Cup rather than their acceptance of the terms which you seek to impose.

It is important that the coalition members have a clear view of your position so that they can decide the extent to which they wish to modify the coverage they give to the Rugby World Cup, its sponsors and the sport of rugby in general. It is clearly vital that there is a dialogue and the terms eventually agreed on need to reflect not just the commercial concerns of the IRB but also the freedom of the press and the immense amount of publicity, editorial space and direct investment in coverage contributed by the media.

I have been asked to liaise with you on behalf of the organisations below and will report back to them the outcome of our meeting. Clearly it is important that we discuss this soon to allow ourselves a chance of reaching an agreement before the event itself. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions in the meantime.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Moger

On behalf of the global news media

This letter is supported by the following organisations:

World Association of Newspapers;

European Publishers Council;

European Newspaper Publishers Association;

Periodical Publishers Association;

Reuters;

Associated Press;

Agence France-Presse;

Newspaper Publishers Association;

Newspaper Society;

Society of Editors

Fairfax Media, Australia and New Zealand;

News Ltd;

News International;

L'Equipe

Mirror Group;

APN/Independent News & Media;

New Zealand Newspaper Publishers; Association;

New Zealand Press Association;

Australian Press Council;

dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH;

European Pressphoto Agency;

Getty Images;

World Editors Forum;

International Sports Press Association;

Sports Journalists Association;

Football Writers Association;

Optasportsdata;

Infostrada;

SIC - Sociedade Independente de comunicação, SA;

Associated Press Sports Editors;

American Society of Newspaper Editors;

National Newspapers of Ireland;

European Federation of Magazine Publishers;

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