AP, LPGA talk further about credential issue; no resolution yet

Backed by several other news organizations, The Associated Press made progress Thursday in talks with the LPGA about new restrictions on press credentials, but was unable to resolve the dispute in time to cover the start of the Fields Open tournament in Hawaii.

Without an agreement, the AP did not have a reporter or photographer on the course when play began Thursday in Kapolei, Hawaii. The news agency planned to send out a list of scores at the end of the round.

The AP said the proposed rules would limit its use of stories and photos after a tournament ended and give the LPGA broad rights to use the material for its own purposes at no charge.

The presidents of the AP Managing Editors, AP Sports Editors and AP Photo Managers associations _ representing the 1,800 newspapers who are members of the AP in the United States and The Canadian Press in Canada _ sent a letter to the LPGA in support of the AP’s decision.

The National Press Photographers Association also voiced support.

«We’ve had some good discussion with LPGA,» AP assistant general counsel Dave Tomlin said Thursday. «As a result of those discussions, it looks to us now that their intention was to provide appropriate access and full editorial use by the AP of information and photos obtained at their events.

«We’re optimistic that further discussions will reflect and address the goals and concerns of both AP and the LPGA,» Tomlin added. «We appreciate LPGA’s willingness to work constructively with us on this, and we expect to be back covering LPGA events soon.»

Tomlin has said that the AP had no objections to limits on commercial use of its coverage, which all leagues forbid, but would not consent to editorial limits.

In a statement Thursday, the LPGA said it «intends for its credentials to provide media companies with the same rights to use news and information obtained at LPGA events that are available from other mainstream sports leagues and governing bodies, such as the NBA, PGA Tour, Major League Baseball and NCAA.»

On Wednesday, AP reporter Jaymes Song was not allowed on the course during a practice round or in the media room to cover Michelle Wie’s news conference after refusing to sign the new credential form. Freelance photographer Ronen Zilberman, on assignment for the AP, also refused to sign the form and was denied a credential.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin ran a story Thursday that explained it did not have any stories or photos from the Fields Open because of the credential dispute.

The LPGA would require us to let them use our photos forever, for free,» Star-Bulletin editor Frank Bridgewater said, «and we would have to ask its permission if we wanted to use our own photos in the future.

«We will not sign a form that places limits on how we can use our own photos or that allow others to have any control over our stories.»

In the joint letter from APME, APSE and APPM, the organizations encouraged the LPGA to «work swiftly to resolve the concerns expressed by the AP and other news organizations so that they can resume coverage of your tour.»