NCAA Live Blog Ban II
Troy Johnson of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer has more to say about the NCAA’s tossing a Louisville Courier-Journal sports writer out of a baseball playoff game for live-blogging it. As I surmised yesterday, the NCAA’s motivation was to protect the interests of those to whom it sold broadcast rights.
Forget about First Amendment rights, such as freedom of the press. The NCAA appears more concerned with protecting broadcast rights, the ATM from which it pulls so much cash.
You might wonder why this matters to you.
It should if you’re a sports consumer.
For years, TV networks have paid big money for the live broadcast rights to events such as the NCAA Final Four, the World Series and the Super Bowl. It’s standard practice and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
In this instance, however, the NCAA seems to have overstepped its boundaries by trying to control an evolving medium that has become an extension of the printed newspaper and the 6 o’clock newscast. The Geico cavemen apparently possess a better understanding of current technology than the NCAA, which may actually be an acronym for Neanderthals Controlling All Access.
The outcome of this dust-up could impact what you’re able to read about your favorite college football or basketball team in the near future.
The NCAA argues that blogs written during games conflict with live online coverage rights purchased by ESPN and CBS along with the TV contract for the college baseball tournament. Perhaps that would be true if a blogger supplied streaming video or live audio during a game.
In Bennett’s case, however, he merely provided comprehensive coverage for Louisville fans following the biggest baseball game in school history. The NCAA should be on board with that since the Cardinals were lucky to draw more than 500 fans for regular season games. It should be thankful somebody thought a college baseball tournament important enough to merit a blog since other minor NCAA sports like gymnastics, golf, tennis and soccer receive minimal attention.
As I noted yesterday, I think the NCAA is being short-sighted about this. Johnson is absolutely right that the more resources fans have for keeping up with their favorite sport, the better for all concerned.
Still, it’s absolutely the NCAA’s right to make that judgment. There is no First Amendment issue at stake here. None.
Oddly enough, there’s nothing the NCAA could have done to prevent Bennett or anyone else from posting their thoughts from the left-field bleachers or from watching the ESPN telecast in a pub around the corner and blogging about it.
Practically speaking, he’s right. I live-blogged the NFL Draft, for example, as I have the past two seasons, at OTB Sports, from the comfort of home. Whether the “All Rights Reserved” notification technically gives the NCAA or other entities a right to sue bloggers for unauthorized use of their telecast may be an open question, although I can’t imagine it would stand up in court.
But, again, the NCAA has every right to control what happens in its venue. Surely, it could stop a Vlogger from doing a video blog of the game? Or an audio stream? If so, why not running text commentaries in real time?