SBD/Issue 224/Sports Media

SEC's New Media Policy Restricts Use Of Video On TV, Web

SEC Plans To Limit News Stations' Highlight
Clips To No Longer Than Three Minutes
The SEC plans to enact a new media policy that “places restrictions on TV broadcasts, limiting news stations to clips of no longer than three minutes and allowing highlights for only 72 hours after the conclusion of a game,” according to Jason Morton of the TUSCALOOSA NEWS. SEC Associate Commissioner Charles Bloom said that the “intent of the new restrictions is to protect an agreement between the SEC and XOS Technologies, which last month was announced as the host of the SEC Digital Network.” Certain exemptions will be “granted to the schools themselves as well as those who have paid for specific rights, such as ESPN and CBS." The new policy also “affects pre- and post-game press conferences, practices or any other ‘event sponsored or hosted by the Southeastern Conference or by any one or more of its member institutions.’” The new rules additionally “place restrictions on what ticket-holders can do while at the game,” as the policy “forbids fans from taking photographs or sharing accounts or descriptions of the event.” N.Y. Times Co. VP & Assistant General Counsel David McCraw: “We believe that the new policy is an arbitrary attempt to limit independent news reporting on SEC sporting events and ultimately to restrict the coverage that SEC fans have long enjoyed and have every right to expect as supporters of SEC teams and taxpayers financing SEC institutions." McCraw: "We hope that the SEC will agree to sit down with news organizations to work out a new and mutually acceptable credentials policy. Failing that, news organizations will pursue appropriate legal remedies.” Bloom said that the policy “isn’t iron-clad and is subject to change, especially with regard to non-game footage” (TUSCALOOSA NEWS, 8/8).

ONLINE BAN AS WELL: In Florida, Nathan Crabbe reported the SEC also will "ban media outlets from posting game highlights online, beginning with the upcoming football season." Bloom said, "This is not a restriction of overall coverage. ... It's a restriction of video." Univ. of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Dean John Wright said the new restrictions are a “way of protecting content in an evolving media landscape.” Wright: “It looks to me to be a smart and prudent thing to do to protect the rights to their product” (GAINSVILLE SUN, 8/8).

ON THE TUBE: In Orlando, Iliana Limon notes Conference USA’s $67.8M agreements with CBS College Sports and ESPN “expire at the conclusion” of the ’10-11 season, and if the conference “finds the TV marketplace less lucrative than in the past, its future becomes less stable.” Univ. of Central Florida President John Hitt, who will be “overseeing the negotiations” for a new deal, said, “It’s very important.” Limon notes the TV agreements “will help determine whether Conference USA keeps up with the Mountain West Conference,” or “slips closer to the funding levels of the Western Athletic, Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences.” C-USA’s teams “have come to expect quite a bit more than the reported $330,000 per school WAC teams get each year from ESPN.” C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky said that he is “optimistic about hanging on to one of C-USA’s unique features: national TV deals with more than one network” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/10).

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