Sky hopes to avoid ban

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The Independent Online

Sky Television is hoping to have its Rugby World Cup accreditation ban lifted by the organisers at an appeal to be heard in Durban this morning. A Sky News team were accused of breaching an agreement about access to matches and of taking a camera into the England dressing-room before last Saturday's match against Argentina in Durban. Sky denies the allegation.

The guidelines for broadcasters are strict: only rights holders - ITV is one of around 125 of them - can have access to accredited areas. Those areas begin at the perimeter of the grounds being used in the tournament. Companies without rights cannot take cameras into any stadium.

Sky insists it has adhered to the guidelines. Mike Nolan, Sky's deputy head of news, speaking in London yesterday, said: "We know the rules and this is an unwarranted slur. We have a good relationship with all the home countries and can talk to them at the hotels and the training grounds. There is no reason for us to bend the rules."

Jeremy Thompson, Sky's Africa bureau chief, admitted he was baffled. "None of us know where the story about getting into the dressing-room came from. We simply didn't film in that game."

ITV, which is spending more than pounds 8m for broadcasting rights, has firmly denied it had anything to do with the speculation about Sky. Trevor East, the company's head of sport, who is in South Africa, said: "There has been a suggestion from Sky out here that ITV influenced the decision. We resent that very much. If they have broken the rules that is their problem, it has nothing to do with ITV."