NFL spokesman responds to camera sideline ban controversy

Responding to criticism from local TV stations, the RTNDA, the NAB and the Society of Professional Journalists and some print journalists, NFL vice president of public relations Greg Aiello issued a statement last week assuring the media and the public that local TV stations “will have plenty of NFL access.”

The statement is intended to address concerns raised after the league announced that it would no longer allow local TV stations to have camera operators on the sidelines of NFL games. Team owners made the decision to ban the cameras after footage from a game reportedly showed up on a local TV station Web site in violation of the league’s strict rights protection policy. (See: "SPJ, RTNDA, NAB object to proposed NFL sideline camera ban.")

According to Aiello’s statement, the decision to ban sideline cameras “has stirred some misinformed controversy in the media.” The change will not take away anything from the highlights of games fans see on local and national television, he said.

“Local stations will continue to have access for free to all network game footage and to post-game interview sessions,” he said. “There is really no change in the ability of local stations to serve their viewers with in-depth and unique coverage of the NFL and its teams.”

According to Aiello, the change means “local stations will rely primarily on the network game telecast for highlights and, instead of having their own cameras on the sidelines to supplement those highlights, will use a pool feed of sideline shots.”

The change in the policy will reduce congestion on the sidelines “allowing our network partners to do a better job,” he said. It also will protect “league-generated content from misuse” and also provide “plenty of raw material for extensive news coverage by local stations.”

The new policy will allow local station camera crews to be credentialed to shoot on the field during pre-game, halftime and post-game periods. A sideline pool feed from local station-staffed cameras will be available to supplement game coverage. According to Aiello, “there are no restrictions on the content of the pool feed, including game action.”