News Agencies Lift Rugby Event Blackout

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International news agencies resumed coverage of the Rugby World Cup on Friday ? just 90 minutes before the tournament’s opening match ? after progress in negotiations with the sport’s governing body over media restrictions.

The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse suspended their coverage of the event Thursday because of the dispute with the International Rugby Board.

Negotiations centered on the number of photos news organizations can display online during a match and the length of video clips of non-match coverage they can post online.

In talks Friday, the IRB agreed that agencies can transmit 200 photographs during each World Cup game at a maximum of one photo per 30 seconds.

Previously, the IRB and World Cup organizers had set a limit of 40 photos per match and a further 10 if the matches go into extra time.

Both sides in the dispute agreed that photos sent to Web sites “should not be presented in a way which ’emulates video.'”

Media organizations and rugby officials agreed to meet Monday to further discuss relaxing limits on video.

In the meantime, the agencies returned to work in time to cover Friday night’s opener between France and Argentina.

“We’re glad to be getting back to doing our jobs. It’s not a completely done deal until the video details are ironed out Monday,” said Dave Tomlin, the AP’s associate general counsel for news. “But we’re optimistic that with the kind of effort and good faith being shown on both sides today we will be covering the whole Cup series. Keep your fingers crossed.”

AFP’s head of sports, Pierre Pointeau, confirmed that the French agency had resumed normal text and photo coverage.

Monique Villa, Reuters managing director of media, also confirmed that the agency had lifted its coverage blackout.

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