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NFL limiting what you get to see

10:39 AM, Jan 30, 2008   |    comments
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2007 Emmy Winner: Sports -- Single Story
Preston Rudie, Angela Clooney

Tampa, Florida - In the past,  you might have seen dozens of local television photojournalists working on the sidelines during Tampa Bay Buccaneers football games. But this season, all but one will be gone.

It's the result of a new policy banning local television stations like Tampa Bay's 10 News from shooting their own game highlights. The ban affects all television stations. So Bucs highlights will either come from the network broadcast, or from a single pool photojournalist, who will shoot the game and then distribute copies of the video to all local stations.

Critics say the new policy takes away from the individual styles of each station covering the Bucs.

Scott Libin, The Poynter Institute:
"I think the viewer at home is going to see a lot less creativity, a lot less access during the game. I think things we take for granted, that are maybe nuances, but are different between and among station will begin to disappear."

The Radio TV News Directors Association says the ban is a violation of free speech and freedom of access to a public facility. The General Manager of Tampa Bay's 10 News notes Raymond James Stadium, the home of the Bucs, was partially paid for with more than $168 million in taxpayer money.

The National Press Photographers Association has also objected to the new policy.

But the Director of Communications for the Bucs says the NFL was concerned about sideline safety and that was the reason for the new policy.

Jeff Kamis, Bucs Dir. of Communications:
"From cheerleaders, to the media, to our equipment people, trainer, coaches, players, I mean there are so many people down there I think that's been a big problem where it's really gotten to a level where it's kind of gotten a little bit out of control with the amount of people on the sidelines now at our games."

However, the new policy does not affect newspapers.

Libin says coincidentally, the new policy also comes at a time when the NFL is pushing it's own television network.

Scott Libin, The Poynter Institute:
"To get anything different, you must go to NFL.com or the NFL Network."

Preston Rudie, Tampa Bay's 10 News

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