Australian media coverage of the 2011 Rugby World Cup is in jeopardy because of an impasse over accreditation terms.
With less than three weeks left before the World Cup kicks off in New Zealand, reporters for major Australian news organisations News Ltd and Fairfax Media may either not go to the tournament or cover matches from outside the grounds.
And their photographers may also be shut out of matches unless the dispute is resolved.
The Newspaper Publishers Association (NPA) says that after extensive discussions, the two organisations and tournament organiser, the International Rugby Board (IRB), disagree over two issues.
The IRB believes newspaper publishers should be restricted in the quantity of video they may use for reporting news on digital platforms.
The IRB also demands newspaper publishers should not be able to place any video-based advertisements to accompany news coverage with clips of match highlights.
Newspaper publishers believe they will be at a commercial disadvantage to non-accredited media organisations, which would not be bound by the time restrictions on video footage and would be free to place advertising with their journalism.
NPA chief executive Mark Hollands said it was a "regrettable'' situation that he hoped would be resolved before the tournament began.
Publishers' rights to use video to report news was permitted under the fair dealing exemption of the Copyright Act and the publishers were not prepared to sign away these rights.
Hollands said the publishers had agreed they would not allow any guerilla advertising with their coverage that would undermine World Cup sponsorships.
"Yet the IRB insists the publishers must not place any advertising of any description next to our video coverage,'' he said.
"This is an unwarranted and unnecessary restriction on traditional and legitimate business practices.''
National news wire service Australian Associated Press is still in discussion with the IRB over the current wording of accreditation documents that prohibits them from supplying any video coverage sourced under the fair dealing exemption to subscribers.
AAP has advised the NPA it is hopeful of a successful resolution, but if not, it will not cover the event for Australian media from within the World Cup venues.
Hollands said the publishers and the IRB had made progress in several areas of media accreditation, which had initially been designed to restrict their journalism on digital platforms.
"Publishers understand the IRB must earn revenue from licensing games for TV and radio, but we do not accept the IRB is entitled to seek to dictate what material may legitimately be used to report news.''
He said many sports continued to try to dictate how publishers delivered their journalism, such as restricting the number of photos published, or demanding reports not be published on mobile platforms.
Hollands said the NPA would continue to talk with the IRB in the hope agreements could be reached for newspaper publishers and AAP.