Rugby World Cup bosses will charge media personnel $362 a match to plug into the internet despite warning others off price-gouging during the tournament.
The charges for local and foreign media were slammed yesterday as outrageously expensive.
They were announced by the Rugby World Cup 2011 media operations team as "substantially reduced" charges - by about 50 per cent.
Wired (plug-in) internet will cost $362 a user, per location, per match for the entire tournament.
It will be cheaper for those accessing wireless internet - $250 a person at matches for the first four weeks of pool rounds (September 9 to October 2) and $50 a person for every week thereafter.
The services are being supplied by Telecom's information technology branch, Gen-i, but the charges are set by RWC.
The chief executive of Rugby New Zealand 2011, Martin Snedden, has previously warned about price-gouging during the cup.
"Irresponsible profiteering within any aspect of hosting the event as a nation and we'll suffer badly," he said in an opinion piece in May last year.
But Rugby New Zealand communications manager Mike Jaspers said yesterday that the prices were below what it would be costing to provide services to the 2000 journalists expected at the tournament.
"The costs reflect the investment by RNZ 2011 and the unique match-day support requirements to ensure the service is maintained when it's most needed," he said.
"If we operated on full cost recovery, the price would be a lot higher. Many past and future major events have and will continue to charge for media services such as WiFi," he said.
However, internet access was free at the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France and at the Fifa World Cup in South Africa last year.
Paul Brislen, chief executive of the Telecommunications Users Association, was aghast at the prices and labelled them astounding.
"Why are they even charging at all?" he said. "That's unheard of. So you get a lot of grumpy journos coming in from overseas expecting to be able to do their job, saying, 'What the hell is this?"'
The Herald understands the wireless charges were reduced after complaints from journalists in the United Kingdom.
Mr Jaspers confirmed that prices were lowered after discussions with overseas media.
Mr Brislen said cup officials should be making it easier for foreign media to write about the tournament.
"I would have thought we would be encouraging incoming journalists to have free access to the net so they post stories about how cool it is in New Zealand during the Rugby World Cup."
Tim Morrissey, deputy sports editor of the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, said he had paid for internet at sporting events, but he would have thought organisers would look after the media.
"For a world cup, you'd expect them to want to maximise coverage."