NFL opposes bill regarding media access at games

Committee meeting draws national attention for a bill allowing media access to the sidelines.

Until the 2006 season, media access was unrestricted at NFL games but due to multiple injuries and other problems from overcrowding, the NFL changed its rules.

During the ’06 season there was only one affiliate for each team allowed on the sidelines for photographic or video coverage. And all of the local stations were expected to pool together for video coverage.

Sen. Matt Bartle (R-Jackson County) disagreed with this practice and so he sponsored SB 452, which allows media access to the sidelines of any entity that owns, operates or leases a sports stadium for which 10 percent or more of the construction costs are derived from state or local taxes.

He said the practice of only allowing one affiliate on the field only strengthened the NFL’s already obvious monopoly.

However, David Proper, senior media counsel for the NFL, said this was untrue.

“The media is our friend,” Proper said. “We have always worked hard to cooperate with the media. And letting us find the balance is the best way to insure quality coverage.”

Proper said currently the sidelines are overcrowded and something had to be done about it.

He agreed that only allowing one affiliate on the fields was too extreme, which is why the NFL will adopt the practice next year of allowing five media affiliates per team.

Bartle said this may not solve the problem completely but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

The bill was only heard in committee because of time restraints, and executive session is still to follow.