- Associated Press - Friday, August 12, 2011

LONDON (AP) - Press boxes usually packed with journalists covering the start of the English Premier League season could be empty on Saturday because of a dispute between news organizations and the groups which administer the league.

Representatives of the Premier League and Football League were still meeting Friday with British media groups and international news agencies _ including The Associated Press _ but there appeared to have been little progress.

“There continues to be no new agreement with the English leagues governing media accreditation for matches,” said the News Media Coalition’s Andrew Moger. “This is despite discussions between representatives of newspapers and agencies and the leagues overnight.

“Meetings are planned for today but there is no immediate prospect of a deal.”

The leagues have been in negotiations with newspapers and news agencies for several months over the terms of game coverage.

The coalition said the leagues were seeking to impose restrictions on editorial freedom, which the news organizations had rejected at the start of discussions, before they grant journalists access to matches.

“These controls impose highly restrictive limits on the use of news content produced at football grounds,” the NMC said.

Among others things, 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 Premier League and the Football League, which represents the 72 clubs below the top division, said they have been negotiating in good faith on a new agreement for media accreditation that provides an “appropriate level of protection for their intellectual property.”

“It has been made clear from the start that we are willing to improve areas of the agreement that are of importance to the media covering our matches,” the leagues said in a joint statement.

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