Media associations send protest to SEC

Media associations send protest to SEC

August 20th, 2009 by Jay Greeson and Associated Press in Sports

The Southeastern Conference announced its new media policies earlier this month. Three leading media associations Wednesday announced their displeasure with the SEC's new guidelines, especially the imposed restrictions on video, audio and photos from college games.

The American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Managing Editors and the Associated Press Sports Editors sent a letter to SEC commissioner Mike Slive expressing their opposition to the new conference policies.

SEC spokesman Charles Bloom told The Associated Press that the league had received the letter, "and we will address the issues of concern with the news organizations involved."

The SEC altered its original changes to its media policies with featured restrictions on videos and audio files on Web sites. The current changes were not enough for the media associations.

"While we appreciate that your organization made modifications addressing concerns raised by members of our associations, we believe that many major issues were left unaddressed," the groups write in the letter. "We strongly urge further review, as many of the revised provisions will still inhibit coverage of SEC events to the detriment of both the news media and the SEC and its members."

Among the main points of contention listed in the letter are:

-- Limitations and restrictions of use of audio and video highlights from SEC games and time limitations for post- and pregame audios and videos;

-- Limitations on photographs taken from games that would all but eliminate photo galleries;

-- That media-generated photographs can be used by the SEC at no charge;

-- Limitations on real-time descriptions and blogging from SEC games.

"The SEC and some other big college conferences want to become publishing and broadcasting businesses now," said David Tomlin, The Associated Press's associate general counsel who helped draft the letter. "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 the fans is less opportunity to see independent, objective exposure. The leagues will cover themselves."

The SEC is just the latest sports league to make significant changes to its media procedures. In recent years, the NFL has tightened restrictions of photographers and Internet-driven reporting. The Pac-10 Conference is planning to limit any Internet coverage while its games are in progress, Tomlin told the AP, and there have been similar concerns about Big Ten and Big 12 officials changing their policies.