On Thursday, the SEC passed out a new media policy to its 12 member schools. Though there is a link to the pdf at the Tuscaloosa News link in the preceding sentence, it currently does not work, though I'm hoping they correct it. It comes in conjunction with the new SEC Digital Network, and most of the new restrictions appear to be an attempt to drive traffic toward the SEC network and away from pretty much everybody else. Among the restrictions include:
- Prohibiting media credentials to any non full-time employee from a media outlet. That obviously includes bloggers, but is worded to include freelance journalists and the part-timers at many local media stations as well. Richard Pittman of And The Valley Shook has a clear explication of that point in the post linked above. (H/T to him for pointing this out.)
- Fans will be forbidden from taking any pictures or video at games, including cell phone pictures. They plan on printing this policy on tickets, though it's too late for football tickets this year, as many have already been mailed out. But I think they'll be very clear about their displeasure at such things at the games this year. Watch for new signage.
- Increased restrictions on photo, video, and commentary publications. Along with the previous bullet point, the tickets will state that fans will be prohibited from "sharing accounts or descriptions of the event". Aside from that policy being impossible to enforce according to its letter, that's a clear stab at regulating game descriptions from anybody who acts in a media-ish sense without the proper credentials (read: without paying the SEC a boatload of money).
- Restrictions on live game content. Again, if you take this according to the letter of the law, this could mean they'll try to ban things like live game threads as they could be construed to be a media commentary of a live event. Will it go that far? I wouldn't think so, but the initial writing of the policy appears to be designed to give the SEC maximum leverage.
The last bit is deliciously amusing, but he does raise some interesting questions. While this is primarily a restriction on the pajamas media and the indie journalists, it could also be the first step in removing journalists altogether. The conferences have already figured out that they can remove the middle man with TV coverage; why not the middle man in other media as well?
Some will be answered when the release is publicly available, but the proof will definitely be in the pudding.