SBD/Issue 232/Sports Media

Media Groups Send Joint Letter Of Protest To SEC Over New Policy

Several News Organizations Protest SEC's
Control Over Media Under New Policy
The presidents of the Associated Press Managing Editors, the Associated Press Sports Editors and the American Society for News Editors yesterday "sent a joint letter of protest" to SEC Commissioner Mike Slive regarding the conference's new media policy, according to Scott Hotard of the Baton Rouge ADVOCATE. The presidents in the letter said they "still see significant problems with the most recent version" of the policy, despite the SEC's recent revisions. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Managing Editor David Bailey: "It's still unreasonable. They basically softened their language a little bit, but they didn't really soften their restrictions any." AP Associate General Counsel David Tomlin: "The SEC and some other big college conferences want to become publishing and broadcasting businesses. It is constructed so the leagues can run their own publicity machines, make money and control their message, control their brand. What that means for fans is less opportunity to see independent, objective exposure. The leagues will cover themselves." SEC Associate Commissioner for Media Relations Charles Bloom "has answered several calls from editors and reporters in the past two weeks," and he said that "most of the complaints focus on the league's protection of in-game video and the reselling of photos" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 8/20).

POLICY NOT AIMED AT CASUAL FAN: In N.Y., Belson & Arango in a front-page piece note the SEC's media policy is "aimed not at the casual fan who might post a few pictures of Saturday's football game on a personal Web site, but rather those who copy television broadcasts, create their own highlight reels and post them on sites charging for access or advertising." The SEC "did not identify specific Web sites that might have prompted its policy changes," but the rules are "part of an effort to protect a vast online video archive of games and file footage that the conference will market to fans this fall" as the SEC Digital Network. SEC officials said that they are "not trying to prevent fans from sending personal messages or brief descriptions of games to their Facebook pages or on Twitter, as some fans fear," as Bloom said that enforcing such a policy "would be impractical and counterproductive." Bloom: "We want to protect our rights to have video between the conference and its members, and ban the commercial sale of photo images. Fans can post photos on their site or Facebook page, but they can't be for sale" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/20). Bloom added, "We probably took traditional media rights language and tried to apply it in a new media world." In Birmingham, Jon Solomon notes the revised policy now says "personal messages of scores or other brief descriptions of the competition throughout the Event are acceptable" (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 8/20).

REVISIONS WERE NECESSARY: In Dallas, Jarrett Rush wrote an "all-out ban on something that you don't necessarily understand typically does more harm than good." Rush: "It seems to me, there is an opportunity here. The conference should Tweet near-continuous updates on the game for those who want it. For football update after each play. For basketball, same thing. Beat someone to the punch" (DALLASNEWS.com, 8/19). But YAHOO SPORTS' Holly Anderson wrote, "While it's entirely logical and sound for the conference (and by extension, the television networks), to shore up protections for this enormous revenue stream they've got control of, are they really going to bring the hammer down on bloggers like yours truly who want to share Eric Berry's latest interception with our audience?" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/19).

MISSING THE LARGER POINT: CNBC's Darren Rovell notes the most popular bloggers are "writing up their relevant posts while watching the game on their couch, where the SEC's rules become moot." These blogs are "well written by the biggest fans, they are willing to talk about all the rumors that every fan wants to hear and, despite having less access, come off as being closer to the team and fan sentiment than most beat writers" (CNBC.com, 8/20).

Rhodes One Of Several Jets That Have
Embraced Idea Of Using Twitter
NFL TWITTER POLICY IN THE WORKS: In DC, Mark Maske reported NFL owners yesterday "discussed the league's in-the-works Twitter policy," but the league "did not announce a new policy." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the policy is "not completed." He added that the NFL "views Twitter as a positive tool that can be used to promote the sport" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/19). Meanwhile, the AP's Dennis Waszak Jr. noted while some teams have banned players from using Twitter, the Jets "have openly embraced" the site. Jets Exec VP/Business Operations Matt Higgins: "We really made a conscious decision that we were going to embrace social networking because it's an outgrowth of our motto that we talk about internally: Remove the barriers. Football, more than other sports, probably has more barriers that you have to overcome. With the helmet, you don't really get to see players' faces or expressions. Twitter enables you to communicate with players directly, one-on-one." Higgins approached Jets S Kerry Rhodes and a "few others about a year ago about becoming involved with Twitter," and the Jets "set up accounts and let the players have fun -- while sticking to some house rules, of course" (AP, 8/17).



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