North Dakota State University is in essence holding media outlets hostage to cover their games. Unless local outlets such as newspapers, radio, TV, websites and any other media don’t make an agreement in place with the school, they won’t be able to conduct one-on-one interviews, show extended highlights, air or stream live press conferences, air live radio shows from school facilities or grounds on game days. In addition, live blogging of games is out.
According to Fargo, ND newspaper, The Forum, NDSU is protecting the exclusive rights of their radio and TV partners while limiting access from non-rightsholders.
The school explains that it feels the need to protect its brand and would likely reject a request from a non-rightsholder for a one-on-one interview. And the school further justifies blocking access by stating “Most schools are doing this.”
However, as Deadspin points out, most schools are not doing this, but NDSU, a public university feels it has to do this. The school’s football games are aired on KVLY-TV and on NBC affiliates throughout the state. Basketball games are aired on Midco Sports Network. And it signed a new radio contract earlier this year.
And by making outlets pay for access, the school makes additional money on top of the rights fees paid by their official radio and TV partners.
While professional sports leagues have made agreements with networks for rights to highlights, making local outlets pay to cover games is practically unheard of. Imagine SEC schools making local media pay to cover games or limiting access to newspapers, TV, radio and websites?
What if professional sports leagues sought payment from media outlets? There would be a revolt.
But North Dakota State feels that its program is popular enough within the state’s borders to limit access and seek payment. Whether non-exclusive media will sue for access or just take this sitting down is the next question.
This story isn’t over and is most likely in its first chapter.