University of Oregon to consider media needs before setting broadcast limits
(Editor’s note: Three national media organizations sent a letter July 23 asking the University of Oregon to drop its proposal to limit the broadcast of game highlights and interviews. In the letter, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio-Television News Directors Association and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press told UO President Dave Frohnmayer the suggested rule violated press freedoms.)
The University of Oregon is listening to news media criticisms of its recent proposal to restrict the amount of time TV stations can air sports highlights and interviews.
Oregon broadcasters spoke against the policy at a July 11 public hearing at the university. They say the proposal to limit TV stations’ sports coverage of university athletic events infringes on their free-press rights.
The proposed rule would prohibit broadcasters from airing more than 20 seconds of the first 48 hours of a game and 30 seconds of highlights during weekend wrap up shows.
The university proposed the new policy after KVAL, a local television station, began airing lengthy clips of Duck football games and interviews. Last fall, KVAL lost its broadcast rights to university sports events.
ESPN, which holds the broadcast rights to University of Oregon Duck games, requested the new broadcast rules because of KVAL’s extensive use of Duck footage, General Counsel for the University of Oregon Melinda Grier told freedomforum.org.
The school will announce its finalized policy for airing university sports highlights in a few weeks, Grier said.
“We’ve gotten a lot of comments from the press and we’re tying to get a sense of what will work for media outlets, so those folks who want to use the footage legitimately will be able to do so,” the attorney said.
The school has not decided whether it will modify its recent proposal, Grier said.
“We want to make sure that what we’re doing doesn’t have a negative impact on media that use the highlights on news programs, but we also need to come up with a policy that prevents non-license holders from encroaching on the rights of license holders,” she said.
“They didn’t go as far as saying they would not renew (the contract), but they’ve expressed concerns about unfettered access,” Grier was quoted as saying in the Eugene, Ore., newspaper, The Register-Guard, on July 13. “They have to feel that they’re getting something valuable enough to do business with us.”
KVAL General Manager Dave Weinkauf told The Register-Guard that he was “baffled” by the university’s attempt to limit coverage of its football games. “We haven’t found anybody who is trying to restrict free speech and press coverage of college athletics in the way the University of Oregon is attempting to,” he said.