CBS Adds Disclosure to '60 Minutes' Piece

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CBS News concedes it should have let viewers know it has a rights deal for Southern Educational Conference (SEC) football broadcasts and has included now that disclosure in the online version of a 60 Minutes story about a conference powerhouse and its colorful coach.

The debut of the 53rd season of the iconic news magazine that aired Sunday (Sept. 20) included a profile of Ed Orgeron, the coach of the National champion LSU Tigers, who CBS billed as a master motivator and ace recruiter. The piece featured an interview with 60 Minutes' Jon Wertheim in which Orgeron talked about his desire for a college football season even in the midst of the pandemic and concerns about player health and safety.

A promo for SEC football ran during the broadcast and included the CBS logo and the piece itself included the observation that "some powerhouse football programs make in excess of $100 million in annual revenue, mostly from giant television rights contracts, in helping to explain the pressure on college football to proceed during the pandemic. "The incentive for schools to salvage this season and play through the pandemic is clear," the piece pointed out. "The incentive for players is less clear."

But what 60 Minutes neglected to point out in the piece was that CBS has just such a TV rights contract with the SEC and thus a financial interest in the promoting and playing of SEC football games.

When asked why that information was not included, a 60 Minutes spokesman said: "We should have mentioned CBS Sports ownership of SEC broadcast rights in our coverage of LSU Football, a member of the SEC," adding: "We will include that in the online version of the story."

At press time CBS had added the following to that online version: "LSU belongs to the SEC, the college football conference whose games are broadcast on CBS."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.