NPA keeps the ball rolling to resolve squabble with soccer

Photographs being sent to mobile phones is one bone of contention

Talks aimed at resolving the dispute between football authorities and the press are taking place on a weekly basis.

It follows an acceptance by both sides that existing agreements between the press and the Barclays Premiership and the lower leagues, now sponsored by Coca Cola, will be honoured until 31 October.

The extension of the talks stopped a bust-up taking place to coincide with last weekend’s opening of the Premiership season. It is understood that some national editors were prepared to drop the sponsors’ names from coverage and results if a deal was imposed on them by the football authorities.

The press is being represented in the talks by the National Publishers’ Association which has different agreements with the Premiership and lower leagues.

Talks have centred on issues such as whether an embargo should be put on when newspapers are allowed to file copy and how it could be used on websites and other services, such as reports and pictures being sent to mobile phones.

NPA director Steve Oram said: “We are having talks on some very difficult subjects. The agreements we have got are extended to the end of October. We are pretty well having talks weekly. It gives us an opportunity to look at things afresh.

“It is not just the embargo, there are serious issues that we are not happy about.”

Society of Editors executive director Bob Satchwell said of the decision to extend the talks: “It does seem to make sense to try and get back to basics. In the end what’s got to be achieved is a balance between the value of soccer to newspapers and the value of their reporting to the sport and its sponsors.”

One concern for regional editors is the decline in traditional football specials, printed on Saturdays to include the match reports and results.

These are facing increased competition from the internet and Teletext services. Earlier this month the Coventry Evening Telegraph announced the scrapping of The Pink, its football results edition.

By Jon Slattery

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