Friday, June 11, 2010

Wis. judge says papers can't videostream high-school games covered by pay-TV contracts

Apparently for the first time, a federal judge has ruled that a state high-school sports group can limit local news coverage of games, an issue that has surfaced in several states. Ruling in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association's lawsuit against the Wisconsin Newspaper Association and Gannett Co. Inc., U.S. District Judge William Conley "struck down the newspapers’ argument that the arrangement violated the First Amendment right to freedom of the press," the Pierce County Herald writes. Conley wrote, “This is a case about commerce, not the right to a free press.”

The WIAA filed suit after the Appleton Post-Crescent, a Gannett daily, live-streamed video of four high-school football playoff games on its website in 2008. The group cited its contract with the production firm When We Were Young to show games for a fee. The judge ruled that paper could interview participants and show limited highlights, but can only show live coverage of games not covered by the contract with When We Were Young. Bob Dreps, attorney for the newspaper association, said his clients were disappointed that Conley approved "the continued commercialization of high school sports." (Read moreUPDATE, July 9: The newspapers are appealing.

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