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Big Ten Sports Credential Restrictions Draw Media Complaints

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Big Ten Sports Credential Restrictions Draw Media Complaints

Article excerpt

Less than two weeks after the Southeastern Conference revised controversial credential rules that had drawn complaints from news outlets, the Big Ten Conference is sparking a similar flurry of complaints for its latest restrictions.

Six news organizations, including the American Society of News Editors, Associated Press Managing Editors, Associated Press Sports Editors, Online News Association, Radio-Television News Directors Association and Student Press Law Center, sent a protest letter to Big Ten officials Friday.

It claims new Big Ten credential rules that it calls "both vague and overly restrictive" are being put forth. It specifically cites provisions "restraining the use of photos and videos as areas of greatest concern."

"Our members have deemed the credentials, in their current form, to be so restrictive that they will prevent media from imparting the necessary news and sports coverage their readers and viewers have come to expect," the letter states. "This coverage benefits the Big Ten conference and its member institutions. While we acknowledge that both the media landscape and the manner of presenting and covering sporting events change through time, there is no reason to drastically alter a relationship that has proven so mutually beneficial since 1896. These credentials would do just that."

The Big Ten is one of college football's powerhouses, including universities in eight states.

Among the restrictions that are considered most unfair in the protest letter are:

* "An apparently absolute ban on the secondary use of content in any format for any purpose -- including editorial purposes. This goes beyond usual restrictions we have seen (but also not agreed to) in the past which purport to prevent reprint or commemorative editions of a newspaper or magazine."

* "The very strict ban against any use of game footage video by non-broadcast media while putting strict controls on broadcast media by limiting them to use of only two minutes of game footage video as part of bona fide news programming in only the week after the event and without accompanying audio."

* "The general prohibition on violations of 'trademarks, copyright and other proprietary rights of the [Member Institution] or the Big Ten Conference."

SEC officials last month had put forth similar limits on Web use of photos, video and audio and blogging of games. But many of those restrictions that had drawn complaints were eased in revised SEC rules last week..

The entire Big Ten letter is below:

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James E. …

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