SEC tweaks criticized media policy
Posted: Friday, August 28, 2009 1:32 pm
By: By PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Resp-onding to a protest by four leading media organizations, the Southeastern Conference put out new guidelines Thursday for media coverage of football games.
The SEC issued the latest revision of its credential rules after discussions that involved commissioner Mike Slive and representatives of the Associated Press Managing Editors, Associated Press Sports Editors, the American Society of News Editors and the Radio and Television News Association.
Those groups sent a letter to the SEC last week, complaining that new guidelines would hinder coverage of games through new outlets on the Internet.
“It’s a very significant step forward from where this whole thing began,” said David Tomlin, The Associated Press’ associate general counsel. “It’s still not going to be universally acceptable by any means to all news media. But the SEC has clearly tried very hard to address some of the concerns.”
The SEC was eager to take care of the dispute with the season beginning Sept. 5.
“We feel we’ve addressed most of the concerns that were brought to our attention by media associations who filed the complaint with us,” associate commissioner Charles Bloom said. “We took care of most of the major issues right at the beginning of the review process.”
John Cherwa, chair of the APSE legal affairs committee, said the media organizations won’t issue a formal recommendation about the latest credential, leaving it up to individual members to decide whether it meets their demands.
One area that’s likely to raise additional complaints: television stations only will be allowed to show game highlights on the Internet as part of a simulcast with their regular newscast.
“There were some things that were important to us that we felt we needed to keep,” Bloom said. “Mainly, the digital rights on the Internet and game footage on the Internet.”
The SEC will make game highlights available to newspaper Web sites at no cost through its own, soon-to-be-launched digital network. Also, there are no in-game restrictions on the use of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as long as they are not used to provide play-by-play descriptions.
“There’s been a lot of improvements since last week, and some of the credit goes to the SEC for being responsive to our concerns,” Cherwa said. “No, we didn’t get everything we wanted. It’s not a perfect credential. But we got some stuff that was important to us.”
For example, media outlets have unlimited rights to all audio and video they produce outside the game itself. Also, proposed restrictions on the use and resale of photographs were removed from the revised guidelines.
“One thing I am sure of is this is an improved credential from where we started,” Cherwa said. “And the SEC is willing to continue the dialogue with us.”