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Impasse reached over media coverage

The Premier League and Football League have seen talks break down over how media outlets will be allowed to cover the new season, threatening press coverage for the opening weekend.

Photographers and outlets that use agencies Reuters and the Press Association will be blocked from doing their jobs until an agreement is reached, with key problems such as how fast pictures can appear and how real-time match blogs operate at the centre of the issue.

Negotiations have stalled after the Premier League tabled a deal that the media coalition - led by the Newspaper Publishers Association and the News Media Coalition - claims places highly restrictive limits on content from grounds.

A statement read: ''English football leagues yesterday (Wednesday, August 3) suspended talks with media organisations planning their coverage of the new season. Newspapers and major news agencies have been in negotiations with the Premier and Football Leagues for several months to agree new terms under which the media covers football matches.

''Following the Leagues' unexpected withdrawal yesterday they immediately and unilaterally circulated an interim 'access contract' containing the restrictions on editorial freedom which news organisations rejected at the start of discussions.

''These controls impose highly restrictive limits on the use of news content produced at football grounds. 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. The Leagues yesterday abandoned scheduled talks and wrote to newspapers and news agencies which are in membership of the News Media Coalition including the Newspaper Publishers Association.

''The Leagues stated that the discussions are on-going. This 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. These are unacceptable to the media who have repeatedly made this clear to the Leagues.

''In the absence of meaningful discussions, news organisations are in the process of identifying how best to serve their readers including loyal fans with independent news and analysis. The News Media Coalition remains committed to the talks and prepared to re-engage with the football leagues.''

A Premier League spokesman said: "Neither the Premier League nor the Football League will offer comment on active and in good faith negotiations.''


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