BRISBANE - The NRL has been accused of changing its broadcast media guidelines mid-season after issuing sanctions on non-rights holders for tonight's State of Origin clash at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.
On the day the code's governing body was powerless to prevent Queensland coach Mal Meninga from snubbing the media 48 hours before Origin three, an email was sent to inform networks they would be prevented from filming anything outside of the post-match press conferences.
The NRL's current guidelines to non-broadcast rights holders states: "No television network other than the host broadcaster is permitted to conduct interviews with players, coaches and officials until 30 minutes after the completion of the match."
However, an email distributed from the NRL's head of commercial Paul Kind on Monday evening informed broadcasters this arrangement had now changed.
"Please be aware that, at no stage during match day will your network be allowed access to dressing rooms," Kind wrote.
"This includes any post-match interviews arranged separately with players are prohibited from taking place within the venue."
The Nine Network and Fox Sports are the official rights holders to the NRL and the ban affects the Seven and Ten Networks in addition to the ABC and SBS.
"It's the game that will be the loser," a Seven Network representative told AAP.
"A mid-season change to their guidelines with no discussion? Are they fair dinkum?
"If I'm a sponsor is this what I want?"
Broadcasters have been told the ban also extends to NRL matches; a move that has been strongly criticised.
"If we go to Campbelltown to cover a game where there is one man and his dog there, we are now not allowed to speak to players after the game when the NRL guidelines stipulate that we can," the Seven representative said.
Kind didn't return AAP's calls when contacted, but his email claimed the move was in line with the stance taken by other sports.
"The National Rugby League has an obligation to protect the rights of the host broadcasters under the rights agreements," Kind wrote.
"The National Rugby League treats these obligations very seriously.
"The above measures are consistent with acceptable practice enforced at major events by other codes."