Regulators, Newspapers Dispute Track Phone Usage

Article excerpt

State racing regulators and newspapers covering races at the $90 million Remington Park racetrack are embroiled in a dispute over a plan to randomly listen in on calls made from the track press box.

Officials at The Daily Oklahoman, The Tulsa Tribune and the Dallas Morning News have rejected a plan whereby press box calls would be monitored to make sure reporters don't leak early information to bookies.

Gordon Hare, Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission executive director, said Friday if media representatives don't sign agreements allowing random eavesdropping, press box telephones at the pari-mutuel horse racing track may be removed.

``As of now we are continuing to investigate and review the situation,'' Hare said. ``But if things don't change, and if they are unwilling to sign those statements, in the near term they won't have access to those outside telephone lines.''

Racing commission rules require all people working at pari-mutuel tracks to obtain a license. The license can be denied for reasons of unsavory reputation or criminal background.

Windsor Ridenour, managing editor of the Tribune, said the paper has rejected the request to allow its reporters' telephone calls to be monitored.

``We feel this is unwarranted government intrusion,'' he said. ``The policy suggests our employees are not trustworthy. It circumvents the need for a showing of probable cause prior to what amounts to wire tapping.''

Jim Standard, executive editor of the Oklahoman, said the newspaper would not allow its reporters' telephone conversations to be monitored.

``We will not sign any forms to that effect,'' he said at a meeting Friday. …