Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It must be good if someone is trying to stop it

We’re barely into this new world of live reporting, via the Internet, and already the some anti-constitution authorities are trying to stop us.

I’m not talking about federal prosecutors in California – I’m talking about sports brass.

One of the most hit-on news briefs at Kansas.com this past Sunday and Monday was the item where the Eagle explained that fans couldn’t follow the usual live game blog of the Wichita State Shockers in the NCAA super regional baseball games.

Seems the NCAA had outlawed “live representation of the game.” They didn’t want some newspaper blog interfering with people watching the game on television. The NCAA doesn’t seem to realize that fans of the Shockers, and most teams, will watch the game on portable televisions while sitting in the stands and reading the blog on their smart phones. Fan is, after all, a short for fanatic.

Not everyone agreed with the NCAA

Brian Bennett of the Louisville Courier Journal blogged anyway during the Cardinals’ game against Oklahoma State, and was tossed out of the press box.

As our columnist, Bob Lutz pointed out:

“It's nonsense to ban blogs, especially since someone watching on television could produce a blog and the NCAA would not have any recourse.”

There was all sorts of talk a few months back on the Yahoo! Newspaper Video Group about how the Major League Baseball trying to ban newspaper video shooters from spring training.

I can, sort of, understand franchises and leagues can put a tight reign on video, just like they limit television rights.

But blogs? C’mon.

With so many people trying to stop us, we must be doing something right.

The Courier-Journal may take legal action, and I hope it does. I hope more papers out there will challenge this, and other kinds of new age censorship, the way they would open records and meetings. I would hope more reporters would take a stand and risk being tossed out of the press box.

As I write this, by the way, the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers are tied in the third quarter.

I know that, because I’m watching the game on TV, and I’m looking at the San Antonio Express-News (home of our friend Angela Grant) which has a live game blog going.


  1. Talk about murky water. I've been on both sides of this. I worked in radio for 10 years and was always on the losing side of a college sports broadcasting rights contract. As a competing radio station we wanted to cover the games just as much as the boys across town who got to do the play-by-play, but we were limited in what we could do in terms of "live reporting" from the games. Our live reports could not depict any play that was in progress and they had to be recorded when play was stopped. We were even banned from covering one specific sport in any live capacity what so ever.

    This all came down to the contract which was agreed to by the college and by the radio group.

    I think the broadcast rights have to be taken into account with the NCAA baseball games. NCAA has some of the most stringent broadcast rights contracts in sports with MLB coming in a close second.

    I didn't get a chance to check too deeply, but I would be willing to put my money down on the fact that the blogger from the San Antonio Express belongs to a newspaper which is owned by a company which owns a television station who is an ABC affiliate who happened to be airing the NBA Finals game.

    As much as I am all for the new media and want complete freedom in coverage for all, not just "professional journalists," there is still something to be said for a broadcast rights contract. As much as you may not like it(I know I didn't), the broadcast rights are initially owned by the league, whatever league that is. They get to pick (usually to the highest bidder) who gets the right to broadcast. End of story really

  2. David makes great points. This is definitely murky, which is why I hope Louisville, or someone, challenges this. Ultimately, I think there will need to be a court ruling on this, and I say that knowing courts haven't necessarily been on the side of the First Amendment as of late. I just don't think written descriptions and in-game notes detract from the broadcast rights. I don't think blogs stop people from watching the live action. I think Bennett and Lutz both make good points: that if people were watching it on TV and blogging, or running a discussion board, the NCAA would have no recourse. Maybe the leagues will adopt more stringent rules to cover everything. But these kinds of restrictions are something I think we as a profession should at least challenge. We need to keep new media as open as possible. As people find a way to make more money online, someone will want a piece of it. Do you think we'll enter an era of bids for blog rights? But I think it's still too new to start putting such stringent restrictions in place.