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US court halts AP split from DAPD news agency

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Photo: DPA
13:51 CET+01:00
A US court has temporarily halted a bid by the Associated Press to split from a partnership with Germany's insolvent DAPD news agency and link up with the larger rival DPA agency instead.

The temporary injunction by Judge Alvin Hellerstein in New York federal court put the brakes on a reshuffle of AP's operations in Germany.

Hellerstein ordered that the leading US news agency "is temporarily restrained and enjoined" from halting its distribution of news, images or other products to DAPD. The order also bars AP from "providing any text, news, information, metadata or other content to any non-DAPD-affiliated entity" in Germany or Austria.

Meanwhile, DAPD, which declared bankruptcy last month, is required by the court to keep up its payments of €65,000 a week to the AP. Both AP and DAPD agreed to the terms of the temporary order ahead of the judge signing off.

The temporary injunction is in response to a lawsuit filed by DAPD following the announcement on November 14 that AP and DPA had hatched an alliance to distribute each other's stories and photos, while the smaller, financially troubled DAPD was being dropped.

AP and DPA had said in a joint statement that the arrangement, expected to

become effective on January 1, would allow DPA to distribute AP photos and

stories in Germany and Austria and text in Switzerland. AP would have access to DPA coverage of Germany and Austria and represent DPA photos for sale in markets outside of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

AP spokesman Paul Colford said because both parties had agreed to holding off for now on the split with DAPD, this was not a setback.

"The judge has not ruled on the termination of the contract, and has not even heard arguments on the issue, so he did not agree with DAPD that the contract was unlawfully terminated," he said in an email.

A new court hearing was expected on December 18.

DAPD welcomed the temporary halt to what it called a "legally invalid" move by AP to terminate their contract.

"We appreciate that the District Court of Southern New York follows our legal opinion and protects DAPD from the termination of contract which we deem legally invalid," Wolf von der Fecht, partner at law firm Metzeler von der Fecht and managing director of DAPD, said.

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"Based on this decision, our clients can rest assured that we will continue to offer the familiar service in the usual quality, including the international coverage," he said.

"We will implement the restructuring concept -- which we introduced on November 12, 2012 -- as planned and are going to establish the DAPD newswire group on an economically sound basis once again."

DAPD was formed in 2010 as a result of a merger of the DDP agency and the German service of AP.

AFP/mry

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