League officials and media fail to reach agreement

 

Half-time had to be declared to allow for a short cooling-off period when talks resumed this week between Premier and Football League officials and representatives of the media over accreditation conditions vor journalists covering matches.

Arguments were so heated, said insiders, that the meeting was adjourned for a short time while the two sides reviewed their positions.

Even so, the meeting still ended in stalemate.

But both sides hope a solution can be found before the August start of the new football season.

Another meeting is planned later this month.

The journalists had come back with a suggestion for a standardised accreditation form for all the media, sent to individual football clubs by their organisations, naming the reporter who would represent them in the press box, which the reporter would sign when picking up their ticket.

But the leagues, while prepared to discard an earlier demand for the press not to write anything damaging about them, the clubs, players or officials, are still intent on introducing bans on journalists supplying online data for any service other than the online versions of their newspapers and magazines.

The media organisations say such bans would be unworkable because control of their copy is out of the hands of the sports writers once it has been filed.

They have suggested instead that the leagues deal with the text message providers commissioning this information.

In any case, they say, there are only one or two per cent of journalists engaged in updating information for text messaging and it is not necessary to impose restrictions on them all.

The media is adamant it does want preconditions imposed on journalists.

"The leagues’ new documents contain many of the facets of the old ones which were unacceptable from top to bottom," said one source.

"It is difficult to see how an agreement can be reached which preserves our point of principle over not wanting journalists to be tied down and the leagues’ honest position of wanting to control and restrict in new ways.

"I wouldn’t want to predict what is going to happen on the first Saturday of the season."

By Jean Morgan

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