ASNE, APME, APSE joint protest over restrictive nature of SEC credentials
With the college football season about to kickoff, news organizations around the country are starting to receive credential policies from the major conferences, and there are potentially serious questions with these that you should be aware of.
With the college football season about to kickoff, news organizations around the country are starting to receive credential policies from the major conferences, and there are potentially serious questions with these that you should be aware of. The first such set of credentials that we have seen are from the Southeastern Conference, whose football season starts in earnest on Sept. 5. The SEC issued its credentials a little over a week ago, but immediately made some changes in the face of instant criticism from recipients. More criticism followed, as did more changes.
But, we still see significant problems with the most recent version. Today, the presidents of ASNE, the Associated Press Managing Editors and the Associated Press Sports Editors sent a letter of protestto the SEC commissioner. The letter objects to the restrictive nature of the credentials, and it asks for negotiations so that ASNE members and others have the opportunity to fully inform readers and viewers about their favorite SEC teams.
ASNE has heard from far too many of its members that they must give up too many rights in order to cover major sporting events. The SEC's credentials continue in this regard, imposing restrictions that we have seen in the past, including:
- The granting of a “limited, non-exclusive and non-transferable” license to take and use photos in news coverage. Reprints in your own publications are permitted only if there is no danger of actual confusion of sponsorship by, endorsement of, associated or affiliated with the SEC or member organizations.
- A prohibition on reselling or licensing photos or videos to anyone other than other news agencies.
- An agreement to let the SEC and member organizations have the right to purchase prints of any published photographs at the most favorable terms offered to third parties; furthermore the SEC and its member organizations can use your photos free of charge.
- Provisions that appear to prevent the creation of online photo galleries or archives.
Unfortunately, there are new restrictions that will serve as major impediments to quality news publication. We view the worst of these as:
- An effective ban on using video or audio highlights from SEC games on a newspaper's Web site.
- A prohibition on “real-time description” of in-game events. Though “periodic updates” of scores, statistics or other brief descriptions are allowed, the sole determiner of whether updates rise to the level of “real-time” description rests with the SEC.
The ASNE/APME/APSE presidents note: “[w]e understand that media coverage of sports is changing. New media and channels for disseminating information, including ownership of distribution channels leagues or teams themselves, require adjustments to the league/team/media partnerships that have existed for years. But the new credentials go beyond "adjustments"; they are wholesale changes that restrain our members from covering your teams in ways that serve fans without harming league interests.” As the letter also states, our groups are simply trying to restore the natural order of sports coverage in a way that benefits the fans.
It is our understanding that other college football conferences will be releasing their credentials in the near future. We expect they will be similar in nature. ASNE will continue to serve our members that find themselves in a fight over restrictive credentials. While we cannot tell you how to respond, we can provide support and resources if needed. Please do not hesitate to contact the ASNE staff.