The Southeastern college-athletics conference (SEC) released its new media guidelines yesterday (read them here). And they're rather astonishing in their ignorance of exactly how reporters, or practically anyone else, interact with, well, just about everything. Here's the SEC's new policy on blogging, for example:
No Bearer may produce or disseminate in any form a “real-time” description or transmission of the Event in any manner that constitutes, or is intended to provide or is promoted or marketed as, a substitute for television or video coverage of such Event. Periodic updates of scores, statistics or other brief descriptions of the competition throughout the Event are acceptable provided that the Bearer conforms to the blogging policies separately published by the SEC, as such policies may be revised from time to time. Bearer agrees that the determination of whether a blog is a real-time description or transmission shall be made by the SEC in its sole discretion. If the SEC deems that a Bearer is producing a real-time description of the Event, the SEC reserves the right to pursue all available remedies against the Bearer including but not limited to the revocation of this Credential.
The St. Petersburg Times reports that fans are in approximately the same boat. The SEC now forbids emailed photography, texting, or anything else that might end up on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, or your daddy's Nokia: "A conference spokesman said this policy was meant to try to keep as many eyeballs as possible on ESPN and CBS — which are paying the SEC $3 billion for the broadcast rights to the conference's games over the next 15 years — and also on the SEC Digital Network — the conference's own entity that's scheduled to debut on SECSports.com later this month."
It wasn't all that long ago, you may recall, when music venues attempted to restrict ticketholders' ability to photograph and record the acts they were paying increasingly ridiculous sums to see. Now, of course, at least half the audience is engaged in shooting, texting, or yapping on their cell phones at any given time during the course of a show. As closely related as sports and pop music are, it's ridiculous to imagine college-sports fans voluntarily powering down their electronic apparatus for the good of the SEC's $3 billion deal. At least, that is, until the first RIAA-like lawsuits are launched against random alumni.