International Committee

Media Rights

At the 1999 Mid-Year Meeting the ISAF Council approved revisions to the ISAF Media Rights Rules and Regulations, which come into immediate effect. As with the Advertising Code, a regulation will be prepared for final ratification at the 1999 November Conference.

As background information to the reasons why ISAF made such changes to the Media Rights, please see the "Media Rights Explanatory Document" at the bottom of this page, prepared by the ISAF Lawyers, and leading sports lawyers, Townleys.


1. Definition

For the purpose of this regulation media rights shall mean:
(a) The right to communicate or interact via the Internet, or other system with information including, but not limited to, statistics, rules, bulletins, calendars, news, and results, and
(b) The right to transmit them on audio visual and/or audio visual live and/or delayed covering of an event.

2. Ownership

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) is the first owner of all media rights of any event using the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing.

3. Licensing

No class association, club or person or any combination thereof, may negotiate or enter into or benefit from any cash act for the grant of any media rights in respect of any event except with the express written consent of ISAF or as follows:
(a) ISAF Class (International and Recognised) World Championships and Continental Championships
As designated by ISAF in accordance with ISAF Regulation 10, ISAF Classes will be automatically licensed by ISAF, without fee, to such media rights for their ISAF approved Class World Championships and Continental Championships.
(b) National Events
The media rights are automatically licensed, without fee, to the MNA. The MNA may sub-licence the media rights to the Event Organising Authority.
(c) An International Event taking place in one country
The media rights, on application to ISAF, will be licensed to the MNA, without fee. The MNA may sub-licence the media rights to the Event Organising Authority.
(d) An International Event taking place in more than one country
The media rights, on application to ISAF, may be licensed to the MNA of the event organiser. A fee may be charged. The MNA may sub-licence the media rights to the Event Organising Authority.
(e) Special Events/Classes/ISAF Events *
The media rights, on application to ISAF, may be licensed to the event organiser/or other organisation at ISAF Executive Committee's discretion. A fee may be charged:
* Special Events
Americas Cup Series
Americas Cup Challenger Series
Americas Cup Defender Series
Americas Cup Match
Volvo Ocean Race
Global Ocean Races
Trans-Oceanic Races
ORC World Championships (not covered by (a)).
Other special events at the ISAF Executive Committee's discretion
* Classes
International America's Cup Class
Volvo 60'
Maxi One Design
Other classes at the ISAF Executive Committee's discretion
* ISAF Events
ISAF World Youth Sailing Championship
ISAF Olympic Classes World Championship
ISAF World Sailing Championship
ISAF Match Racing World Championship
ISAF Women's World Match Racing Championship
ISAF Team Racing World Championship
ISAF Women's Keelboat World Championship
And any other ISAF Events which may be introduced.


The following information has been prepared by Townleys, the ISAF Lawyers, for information as to the reasons behind the revision of ISAF's Media Rights Rules and Regulations.

Changes in the Industry

The traditional platforms that have been available for an International Federation to communicate with its "audience" have been narrow and limited. Technological changes will vastly increase the range of distribution platforms for the future. This has led to significant changes in the structure of the media industry. The traditional television broadcasters are being challenged by telecommunications companies and telecommunications companies are being challenged by computer software and hardware suppliers. Both vertical and horizontal integration within such industries is currently under way. This has produced a total focus on sports rights "content".

What are Media Rights?

Media rights are generally understood to mean the methods of distributing content to the audience. This could be, for example, via television and/or using so-called new media rights such as internet, CD ROMs or laser disks.

The Role of International Federations

The majority of all sports activity is organised at an amateur and/or recreational level. Most sporting structures operate through an underlying commitment to solidarity. This is given effect and support by the principle of one governing body for each sport. Solidarity means that those areas of sport that generate income support those areas that cannot.

The Social Significance of Sport

The social significance of sport and sporting bodies such as International Federations has recently been recognised at a sports summit in Olympia, Greece. This was organised by the European Commission. The International Federations, through policies established in conjunction with their national associations and member clubs, act as custodians of sports ethics and development. They also establish policies for redistribution of income throughout a sporting structure. The object is to ensure vibrancy and development of competition at all levels.

Where Media Rights and the Role of an International Federation Converge

Information in the form of results, news items, rankings and statistics are increasingly important as "content" to supplement the traditional visual imagery and sound of television. This issue of itself raises questions as to proprietorship and/or ownership. The view of ISAF, along with many other International Federations, is that to the extent that such imagery, sound and information is capable of ownership as an "intellectual asset" or "property", then that ownership should, wherever possible, be captured within the structure of a sports body and not by media and/or new media interests. There are particular legal issues that must be addressed to create ownership in the first place.

The Role of ISAF

The ISAF, along with other International Federations, has therefore identified the importance of imagery and sound combined with information as "content" for the future. As part of its responsibilities in connection with solidarity, it has sought to identify this issue in its proposed rule changes. It is the intention of ISAF to assert ownership where appropriate for the sport as a whole. The assertion of ownership is against external interests, such as media companies, outside its sport's structure. In conclusion, this achieves two positive positions: first, it enables ISAF and the sport to continue to communicate with its audience, thereby promoting the further development of the sport of sailing around the world. Secondly, it has identified a position of solidarity within the sport of sailing so that at each level, the sport of sailing can benefit commercially from relevant opportunities, as and when they exist.

Stephen Townley
9 June 1999