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SPJ, RTNDA, NAB object to proposed NFL sideline camera ban

The Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio-Television News Directors Association and the National Association of Broadcasters have all separately urged the National Football League to reverse a plan to bar local TV cameras from the sidelines of NFL games.

In a letter to the league, its 32 franchise owners and government officials in NFL cities and states, the SPJ protested the plan to prevent local TV journalists from capturing game-day action from the sidelines.

On March 31, NFL team owners voted 32-0 to adopt a policy that they say would protect broadcast rights holders and alleviate congestion from the sidelines. The exact terms of that new policy have not been finalized.

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

In a letter from RTNDA president Barbara Cochran to NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the rule-making committee, the association urged reversal of the policy. “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.

NAB president and CEO David Rehr called the NFL decision “wrongheaded” and said the league demonstrated “an appalling lack of appreciation for the role broadcasters play in serving local communities” with its action.

The league is expected to make details of the ban plan available this week.

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