London: Media coverage of the opening of the Premier League season could be disrupted after the league broke off talks with media groups over reporting restrictions.
The Premier League and Football League have been in negotiations with newspapers and news agencies for several months over the terms for coverage of matches. The season kicks off on August 13.
The News Media Coalition, an international body which seeks to protect the ability of news organizations to cover major events, said the leagues suspended talks on Wednesday.
The coalition, whose members include The Associated Press, Reuters, AFP, Britain's Press Association and British newspapers, said the leagues then circulated an interim "access contract" containing restrictions on editorial freedom which news organizations had rejected at the start of discussions.
"These controls impose highly restrictive limits on the use of news content produced at football grounds," the group said in a statement.
Among others things, the coalition said, the rules include league controls on how and when news can be published online, and how news can be distributed to fans in Britain and overseas. They also require users of content to obtain and pay for permission from the leagues for their coverage.
"The leagues have refused to even consider the latest proposals and seek to impose last year's terms by default," the coalition said. "These are unacceptable to the media who have repeatedly made this clear to the leagues."
The media coalition said it remains committed to the talks and is ready to resume negotiations with the leagues.
"In the absence of meaningful discussions, news organizations are in the process of identifying how best to serve their readers including loyal fans with independent news and analysis," it said.
The AP said it was pushing for a resolution.
"We're hopeful we can reach a sensible resolution soon so that we can provide customers and fans throughout the world the coverage they've come to expect," said Lou Ferrara, AP's managing editor for sport. "We also want to make sure that organizations can use our coverage, or material from other outlets, without restrictions or additional costs."