SPJ Opposes NFL Camera Ban


Saying it smacks of censorship, the Society of Professional Journalists is the latest group to oppose the NFL's decision to restrict sideline coverage of NFL games by local TV stations.

SPJ sent letters Wednesday to NFL team owners and government officials in NFL cities, taking issue with a policy the NFL billed as protecting game rightsholders.

The NFL told the National Press Photographers Association the move is to protect exclusive NFL video from unauthorized use on the Internet. The league, however, is notoriously tight-fisted about controlling its image and limiting the sources of video, which also allows it to control post-game interviews and any antics during games.

"The NFL proposal is not in the public interest," said SPJ President David Carlson in announcing the letter-writing campaign. "It is bad for the public, bad for the news media and bad for the NFL.

"Excluding local stations interferes with the public's ability to get information from a wide variety of sources," Carlson said. "It is patently unfair to local television stations and their audiences."

WISH Indianapolis Assistant News Director Kevin Finch, who heads SPJ's Indiana chapter, seconded that sentiment: "I can't help but note the irony of prohibiting local TV access to stadiums, many of which are almost exclusively funded by local and state tax money. I also find this part of a troubling trend; less access means more management of the message."

The Radio-Television News Directors Association and the National Association of Broadcasters have also expressed their strong opposition.--Allison Romano contributed to this report.