Letter to the Editor

Bills back access to game coverage

Thursday, March 15, 2007

By Mike Smythe

Television stations across the country are very unhappy with the National Football League, and right now all eyes are focused on Jefferson City, Mo.

In 2006, the NFL decided to not allow sideline coverage of the league games by local media. What they want is a video concession stand that is owned and operated by the NFL. Where there was once open access to the games, it will soon be a toll booth.

Two bills have been introduced in the Missouri Legislature to change this, and what happens in the House (House Bill 854) and Senate (Senate Bill 452) in this session is critical to the rights of television stations and taxpayers. The broadcasters, including KFVS12 sports, have always supported our state's professional teams. The broadcasters have built the fan base for the Rams and Chiefs, and now the NFL wants to throw all of that away so it can make more money. The House and Senate bills will stop the greed from the NFL.

Here's the deal. Public money is involved in the Kansas City and St. Louis stadiums. The NFL wants you, the taxpayer, to help build the stadiums and then deny local television stations the right to cover the game from the sidelines. A major sporting event is a legitimate news event. The broadcasters are making a concerted effort to stop this piggish effort by the NFL to make more money and, in essence, control the coverage that you see on our airwaves. Television stations deserve the right to provide you balanced coverage, especially if the event occurs in a publicly funded facility. There is no burden by local coverage to the NFL, and the two bills in the Missouri House and Senate are important to keep you objectively informed.

Let's make sure state Sen. Jason Crowell and House Speaker Rod Jetton know that denying local media coverage in a publicly funded facility is not right and that you support passage of this Missouri legislation.

Mike Smythe is the general manager of KFVS12 in Cape Girardeau.