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Australian and New Zealand agencies to boycott Rugby World Cup

A host of Australian and New Zealand news agencies have said they will boycott the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England due to coverage restrictions relating to video match highlights of the national team tournament.

The Australian Associated Press and its New Zealand operation NZN have elected not to send journalists or photographers to the tournament, which runs from September 18 to October 31, following on from a similar stance adopted by News Corp Australia and Fairfax Media.

AAP editor-in-chief Tony Gillies said: “AAP is not prepared to sign away what it sees as fundamental editorial rights so this is not a decision we've taken lightly. The governing body's terms unreasonably limit editorialised video match highlights.

“We genuinely want to be at the games providing rich coverage of the tournament and news of the Australian and New Zealand camps for local audiences. Nothing beats being there. But we just can't work to these terms.”

AAP did not intend to shoot video within match venues but tournament rights holder World Rugby wished to dictate how footage gathered from outside stadiums would be shown. Additional issues surround geo-blocking of match content and limiting use of footage to 48-hour windows.

Australian media boycotted the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand over coverage restrictions. Organisations in Australian operate under a ‘fair use’ practice for sports events content, something some international sports bodies have sought to end.

Campbell Reid, News Corp's group editorial director, told its broadsheet newspaper The Australian: "The kinds of restrictions that they are asking us to live with not only expect us to abandon positions that are acceptable under Australian law, but they are demanding that we turn over to them the decisions of editors and publishing."

World Rugby spokesman Dominic Rumbles said: “We are disappointed for fans and remain hopeful of resolution.”