SBD/July 12, 2012/Media

Big Ten Network Does Not Air Press Conference On Penn State Findings

Several networks, including ESPN and CNN, interrupted their regular programming schedule to air this morning’s press conference detailing the findings of Penn State’s internal investigation regarding the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. However, Big Ten Network did not air investigator Louis Freeh’s press conference, instead sticking with a replay of the ’11 Ohio State-Purdue football game. The move is drawing harsh criticism on Twitter. SI.com’s Richard Deitsch wrote it is “another missed opportunity for credibility & educating viewers” for BTN. CBSChicago’s Adam Hoge wrote the network did not cover the “biggest story in the history of the Big Ten.” Several other media members, including blogger J.P. Kirby and THE DAILY’s John Ourand, wrote the move is “shameful.” The network issued a statement saying, “While some may be unaware, BTN is not and was never intended to be a news organization. Our focus is to air, discuss and analyze what happens relative to the field of play, which is what our viewers are most interested in. BTN analysts have repeatedly expressed their disappointment with the way in which Penn State football officials handled the Sandusky situation. When our football coverage resumes later this month, it will be a topic of conversation as to how it may affect the Penn State football program and the rest of the Big Ten.” A network spokesperson noted that the main points of the investigation were included as part of the on-screen ticker this morning, and a link to the Freeh Report is available on BTN.com. Big Ten Network drew criticism for its coverage when the scandal broke last November, though it was praised for its coverage of Paterno's death in January (THE DAILY).

CONTROLLING THE MESSAGE? In Philadelphia, Melissa Dribben reports students and alumni that gathered in Penn State's student center this morning “to watch the release of the Freeh report live were stunned when the channel suddenly switched.” Just as a news anchor “was ready to speak about the report, the television screens suddenly went blank.” They then “turned to a public access channel featuring a reporter from The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown about the state budget” (PHILLY.com, 7/12).
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