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High-priced ticket

Grand Prix is one demanding sport. For its inaugural race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Formula One Management demanded that stations wishing credentials for the race show air a two-minute highlight video it produced and hand over all race video within seven days after the event.

WTHR(TV) News Director Jacques Natz balked at the agreement, believing it compromised journalistic principles. The recently revised Radio-Television News Directors Association ethics code opposes determinants of news content other than editorial judgment. Natz points out that reporters have gone to jail rather than give up notes or video.

WTHR(TV) News Director Debbie Bush refused to comment, although local papers identified the station as having participated, and WISH-TV News Director Lee Giles was unavailable for comment.

Kevin Nunn, news director at Tribune-owned WXIN(TV), said that the deal was approved by its corporate attorneys, but he acknowledged that "as a news guy, I am bothered. This is the first time I've ever agreed to give over raw tape."

FOM's two-minute reel, he said, was simply a highlight film. "Those were the parameters, and we were willing to work with them. It was the only way to get access to that video. I'm willing to take my lumps. But racing in this city is huge, and if it weren't a sporting event, we wouldn't play ball. I'm distinguishing sports from news content. It's not like an interview with a suspect. If it had been a prosecutor [seeking station footage] I'd have gone to the mat."