Sky come down to earth

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The Independent Online
Sky Television crews had their accreditation for the World Cup withdrawn yesterday for "acting in direct contravention" of news access guidelines, writes Tim Glover from Johannesburg.

Apparently what really upset Rugby World Cup Ltd and ITV, with whom they have an exclusive agreement, was the presence of a Sky camera in the England dressing-room prior to the match against Argentina.

In a statement last night RWC said: "Sky, a non-rights holding company, were granted accreditation on the understanding they would work in accordance with the guidelines set down. Their personnel, however, have not abided by the guidelines and have on several occasions taken non-accredited cameras into accredited areas. Despite warnings Sky have continued to act in direct contravention of the guidelines and the point has been reached where Rugby World Cup consider that the exclusivity of their rights- holding broadcasters has been so significantly compromised that it is necessary to withdraw Sky's accreditation."

ITV paid about pounds 6m for the rights and companies like Sky were given very limited access. They were not allowed, for example, to take their cameras into the grounds. ITV would suffer similar restrictions at an event at which Sky held the television tights.

Jeremy Thompson, Africa Bureau Chief of Sky News, said: "They've been gunning for us from the start. We will continue to cover the World Cup even if we have to report from the car park. Losing accreditation is no big deal. All it means is that we now have to buy tickets to the matches. We will now operate as a loose cannon."