Blog Post

News Orgs Creating Formal Group To Fight Against Sports Leagues On Coverage Rights

We’ve covered the clash of news organizations with the sports leagues on rights of covering the games, especially in online and mobile media…now “News Media Coalition“, a temporary name for about 40 news organizations including Reuters (NYSE: TRI) and AP, are in the final stage of creating a permanent group to lobby their rights to cover games and publish photographs/video/stats widely in print and digital, reports IHT. On the other side is the till-now low profile “Sports Rights Owners Coalition“, which includes 37 sports institutions — from soccer’s Premier League and FIFA to cycling’s Tour de France.– and is seeking international treaties to “protect and promote the special nature of sport” and its IP rights in digital world.

The NMC has already boycotted events of two members of SROC: the International Rugby Board and Cricket Australia, over issues of photo coverage restricitions. Now, the fight has spilled over to an unlikely group: book publishers in Australia. The local sports authority Cricket Australia is seeking power to authorize the sales of game images to book publishers, which now buy their photos directly from photo agencies.

The clash is simple: sports leagues want to mine direct revenues from fans, and believe that media companies are parlaying their right to cover sports into more commercial services on their news websites. The media companies fear that the owners are trying to carve out new areas where rights fees can be charged to increase revenue.

Meanwhile, since SROC started 18 months ago in Europe, a North American counterpart was also formed called the Coalition of Sports Organizations, which represents about a dozen sports governing associations, including MLB, NBA and NHL in the United States.