RTNDA urges NFL to reverse policy barring local TV

In a letter to league commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the rule-making committee, association president Barbara Cochran said the new ban on local TV crews from NFL sidelines “harms the local stations’ ability to serve the public”
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The Radio-Television News Directors Association has objected to a decision by the NFL rule-making committee to prevent local television news crews from shooting video along the sidelines of league games.

Association president Barbara Cochran urged outgoing NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the committee to reverse the policy in a letter sent last week. “By banning local television coverage, this policy harms the local stations’ ability to serve the public and has the potential to damage the bonds between the NFL franchise and the community,” Cochran said in the letter.

The RTNDA president asserted that “private entities” should not impede the right of the media to gather and disseminate public information. The letter reminded Tagliabue of the public’s financial stake in the league. “Certainly, severely restricting the rights of the electronic media to gather news in publicly funded stadiums raises significant First Amendment questions,” the letter said.

The new policy does not banish still photographers from the sidelines. According to the RTNDA president, that makes the policy discriminatory against TV journalists “and interferes with the public’s ability to get information from a wide variety of sources.”

Late last week, the league said the policy has not been finalized and that team owners would take up the matter later in the month.

For more information, visit www.rtnda.org.

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