After last week’s flurry of news regarding Twitter and the NFL as well as ESPN, SEC made headlines this week when it announced its new media policy, which you can view by downloading it here.
Rocky Top Talk, a Tennessee Volunteers football blog, has a great recap of the main points in the policy and how exactly it affects media members, bloggers, and the fans. For example, the SEC uses the policy to limit game highlights shown on TV (outside of rightsholders) to just the first 72 hours. This policy will also presumably prevent fans from uploading highlights to YouTube. It also means that ticket holders cannot tweet about the game, take pictures, or text/call their friends about what’s happening.
Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News reports that 35-40 media outlets have already complained about the policy since it was released late last week. Bloggers like Clay Travis at AOL’s Fanhouse are unhappy to say the least with the development. As such, the SEC will tweak their recently released new media policy.
“I’m confident there will be some changes to the policy,” SEC Associate Commissioner Charles Bloom said. “I don’t know how in-depth they will be. I think there will be some changes within the next 24 to 48 hours. It’s got to be soon because the season is almost here.” …
“Within probably 24 to 36 hours after we sent out the policy, we started getting calls and questions,” Bloom said. “We went back to our legal counsel and we were told there is a window where we could tweak the policy.”
The Eye on Sports Media e-mailed Bloom about what might be revised in the policy and he responded by saying:
“The section of the policy as it relates to full-time, salaried employees is one that will likely get cut. As you can imagine, we are also dealing with student media as well and that would not go over very well with journalism professors on our campuses.”
But as Matt Hinton of Dr. Saturday points out, it sounds like the video aspect of the policy will remain the same.
Why did the SEC schools agree to this new media policy?
The policy was meant to drive traffic to the teams’ websites by making them the only place to have game highlights and video clips of the press conferences.
In other words, under the new policy, video from Alabama and Auburn practices and news conferences that you see on al.com would be banned and only available at the schools’ Web sites.
“Probably one of the greatest challenges that we’re going to have as an industry is the balance between the protection of online rights, the protection of revenue stream, and the media/public relations aspect to it,” Bloom said. “Because we’re all dealing in new territories.”
The SEC Digital Network was formed last month out of a partnership with the conference and XOS Technologies. The network is to launch this season with some video available on their future website while also allowing people to download the full game replays and other video for a fee (e.g. purchasing or renting a movie through iTunes). This new media policy works to protect this new venture and provide the SEC Digital Network along with CBS and ESPN with greater exclusivity than before.
As I mentioned above, there is a great number of media outlets concerned about what his policy means and how it affects their organization and job.
Chris Rattey, new media director for The Tuscaloosa News and TideSports.com, said “monopoly” was the first word that occurred to him when he heard about the SEC’s new rules.
“From my perspective, in having been in the online industry for 10 years, it’s over the top and bordering on ridiculous,” Rattey said. “It’s almost as if the SEC is monopolizing the content, and business is really getting in the way of journalism.”
You can read plenty of other people’s opinions on the subject: Franz Beard of Gator Country, A Sea of Blue, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Holly Anderson of Dr. Saturday, John Clay’s Sidelines, Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News, and The Big Lead.
The policy has sent some SEC school’s athletic departments “scrambling” as they try to adjust their own media policy to follow the overarching SEC policy. Between the need for adjustments and the wrath they are probably hearing from media members, the media relations folks for the SEC schools probably aren’t having their best week of the year.
“As a Southeastern Conference member institution, we are bound by the policy we received this week from the SEC Office,” said Doug Walker, the University of Alabama’s associate athletics director for media relations. “We will work closely with those who cover us — as well as with the SEC Office — in dealing with any issues that may arise.”
Athletic departments from around the league have expressed concerns about the new rules. Ranging from the wording of the policy — which, as it now stands, limits credentials to “full-time salaried” employees (many news organizations pay hourly wages, employ part-time workers and use freelancers) — to the task to implementing its mandates.
I don’t think that every aspect of their policy will be enforceable (e.g. preventing people from taking pictures at the game or texting friends, etc.), but it looks like the policy will certainly provide their network, CBS, and ESPN with a greater level of exclusivity. Whatever your opinion is on the policy, I think it needed to be released earlier. Tickets have already been sent out for this year so how will the policy be communicated to fans attending games? The policy will have a large impact on how small market TV stations cover the team(s) and I’m sure they didn’t appreciate hearing the news after practices have already begun. The late notice doesn’t give media outlets a ton of time to come up with an alternative or adjust their reporting tactics.
But what do you think about this policy? What changes do you want to see in the next revision of the policy?