Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Live Press Box Blogging of Sports Events is Outlawed by the NCAA When TV has an Exclusive Broadcasting License

Have you seen these blog postings at Deadspin about the NCAA outlawing live blogging from press boxes?

So a Blogger and a Pig Walk Into a Press Box ...

The NCAA Hates the Series of Tubes

The reason for the NCAA rule is found at the June 8, 2007 posting at BasebalAmerica.com, where Aaron Fitt writes in NCAA Stifles Supra-Regional Coverage of College Baseball World Series:

"Word came down today that the NCAA will no longer allow blogging from the press box during super-regionals because blogging “is considered a live representation of the game” and all live representations of the games are the exclusive property of the NCAA’s official rights holders."

The specific reason for the rule is the NCAA contract with ESPN, as Josh Centor at the Double-A- Zone, a blog close to the NCAA, writes:

"On Sunday, Louisville Courier-Journal reporter Brian Bennett was kicked out of the press box at the NCAA Baseball Super Regional. Bennett wasn’t drunk, rowdy or naked, instead getting the boot for his despicable blogging habit.

Due to the NCAA’s broadcasting agreement with ESPN, bloggers are not permitted to update their sites with in-game coverage from the baseball press box. In-game updates include providing readers with the score, inning of the game, roster moves, etc. The policy was enacted at a baseball game, but applies to all NCAA championship events.....

I find all of this quite unnecessary. The world of media has changed and I think this policy makes my organization look arcane because journalists now publish their thoughts in real time on the Internet. I don’t know anybody in their right mind who would choose in-game commentary on a blog over a television broadcast, so I don’t see how there’s competition between our partners and independent bloggers who have received credentials."

That this is an unfortunate - or at least from the standpoint of public relations, poorly managed and snap - NCAA decision is beyond question. In our modern day of mobile devices, much more information is leaving the stadiums during the games than in the days when you had to run to a pay telephone in the depths of the stadium to pass on live information to persons elsewhere.

Nevertheless, many modern college sports could not be financed as they are without TV money, so that when TV broadcasting companies holding exclusive broadcasting rights to sports events speak up, the NCAA listens.

This holds true even if ESPN's argument that "blogging" is "broadcasting" is a matter of definition that surely has not been decided by the courts, though it has been written in the blogging world by some that blogging is broadcasting. Obviously, it will be up to the lawyers to include "realtime blogging" in their broadcasting definitions when broadcasting contracts are made in the future.

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