Battle lines drawn in media row with English leagues
LONDON,August 4,2011- Negotiations over a new match coverage agreement between English-based media organizations on one side and the Premier League and Football League on the other have broken down – with the start of the new domestic season a mere days away.
Media groups, including newspapers, magazines and websites, have long been irritated by restrictions on coverage which, they considered, not only contravened conventions about press freedom but did not respond to the have of technological change.
The bureaucratic demands on media representatives over match access has long been an increasing source of irritation to continental news organizations.
Several European sports journalists' associations, which enjoy a much greater input into media match access, have been studying whether to bar English media from their domestic-match press tribunes in retaliation.
Confusion has also been evident among some clubs whose media officers have sought – against UEFA regulations – to refuse European match accreditation requests in the grounds that certain journalists and/or photographers do not hold the English leagues' licence. The licence does not apply to UEFA matches.
The latest, long-overrunning round of talks broke down on Wednesday, leaving English football/media relations in free fall ahead of the start of the new Football League season this weekend and the Premier League at the end of next week.
A News Media Coalition spokesman said that the leagues' "unexpected withdrawal" from talks had been followed by a unilateral attempt to impose "highly restrictive limits on the use of news content produced at football grounds."
The NMC statement added: "They run to 16 pages of legal constraints, which among other things include league controls on how and when news can be published online – and how news material can be distributed to fans at home and overseas. In many instances they also require users of content to obtain and pay for permission from the Leagues for their coverage."
It said that a claim from the English league that discussions are ongoing "is inaccurate. The talks are not ongoing, they have broken down. The Leagues have refused to even consider the latest proposals and seek to impose last year's terms by default.