The SA National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) and Print Media South Africa
(PMSA) express the strongest concern at the attempts being made by the
International Rugby Board and the Australian Football League (AFL) to
restrict media coverage of the Rugby World Cup and the Australian
Football League games this year, according to a release.

The International Rugby Board (IRB) has imposed severe terms and conditions for media accreditation at this year’s Rugby World Cup in France on the grounds that it has an obligation to protect its commercial revenues.

Sanef and PMSA fully support the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and a coalition of the world’s leading news agencies in their protests against specific media accreditation and other limitations on media coverage imposed by the IRB and the refusal by the Australian Football League (AFL) to provide media accreditation for any of the games in the 2007 season.

The IRB is imposing legally binding media accreditation terms and conditions limiting media coverage which include, but are not limited to, the following restrictions that the media are required to adhere to:

·     a limitation of five still images per half time;

·     a limitation of two still images per half of extra time;

·     ban on photo sales subject to conditions determined by the Rugby World Cup Limited   (RWCL);

·     images are published for editorial reporting purposes only;

·     reserve the right to turn down any applicant at its discretion and without providing any reason for doing so. All decisions of RWCL are final;

·     RWCL reserves the right to amend or limit an Accreditation;

·     banning of superimposed text on photos;

·     tournament material may only be used in regularly scheduled bona fide news   programming/news bulletin (which shall specifically exclude any sports magazine, sports   review/analysis, feature and / or discussion programming);

·     limit of television and internet content duration and timing with differential limits for  particular  countries.

 Sanef and PMSA state that these restrictions and rules are unacceptable and are a gross interference with Press Freedom and United Nations endorsed principles of upholding the widest access to information and its dissemination. In addition to the principles of Press Freedom that are being breached, Sanef and PMSA point out that the media’s historical role of providing pre-event material about all aspects of the World Cup and the Australian Football League, the conduct of the games, the teams playing and their prospects of success –  material which is widely published in the public interest for weeks and months ahead of the   games – is the prime creator of the enormous public focus on the events when they take place. 

 It has traditionally been accepted that in view of this service performed by the media – for which it makes no charge on the various sporting codes that benefit – it is important for all interested media to be present at the actual games and to   report as widely as possible on them and on the ensuing developments and controversies.

 Sanef and PMSA reject the IRB view that media reportage of the actual sporting events is a “third party exploitation”. Media reportage of the actual events which includes wide exposure of the advertising around the sporting pitch does the opposite by increasing the publicity of these advertisers and thus allowing the sporting codes’ commercial exploitation of their events.

Mike Miller, CEO of IRB said in a response to a letter from the CEO of WAN, Timothy Balding, that the IRB unashamedly protects its revenues and believes that these funds should be retained within the Game and not potentially lost or diminished by what in essence may amount to further forms of third party commercial exploitation whether under the guise of so called “news reporting”   or other. 

Miller also mentioned in his response the possibility of charging newspapers to attend major tournament/events in the future.

Sanef and PMSA reject the concept of charging entrance fees for newspapers to attend sporting events as unacceptable and damaging to the sporting codes because of the limitations it could place on reporting sports events.

Sanef and PMSA believe that apart from the Press Freedom principles involved, the restrictions are misconceived and will harm the general public’s interest in their sporting codes because diminished reporting and media discussion of their events will reduce the high public focus that those codes currently enjoy.


Raymond Louw                                                                                             Ingrid Louw  

Chairperson                                                                                                   CEO

Sanef Media Freedom Committee                                                             Print Media SA

011 646 8790 / 082 446 5155                                                                    011 721 3200