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RTNDA Lodges 'Net, Vest Protest With NFL

The Radio-Television News Directors Association is calling a penalty on the NFL.

In a letter to the league, Barbara Cochran has asked it to reconsider new policies that would restrict stations' use of online audio and video from team press conferences and interviews to no more than 45 seconds for 24 hours after the event.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told B&C the league was not reconsidering the online video policy.

In addition, the league is requiring photojournalists to wear vests bearing the corporate logos of NFL sponsors.

Agreeing to both would be required for journalists to get credentials to cover league events, says RTNDA.

Cochran called the policies "at odds with the best principles of sound journalism" in a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Cochran asked for a meeting "at your earliest possible convenience," pointing out there is less than two weeks before credentials are to be issued and the NFL exhibition season gets underway.

McCarthy defended the vest policy and said it applied only to still photographers, not videographers. "The red vests that include a small Canon logo are for still photogs only." he told B&C. "Affils on the sidelines will wear black vests without a Canon logo. The vests are to help security and game operational personnel better identify people with game day responsibilities."

And if the league won't change the policies? "One thing [stations] can do is let people who use their Web sites know about the limitations imposed by the league.," Cochran said. And would she advise photojournlists not to agree to be walking advertisements if the league won't budge on the signs? "So many people are expreessing concern over the vets," she says, "that I am hopeful the NFL will relent." What if they don't? "Individual staitons will have to decide what to do," she said. "We're not ready to make a recommendation. We would much rather work this out with the NFL."

RTNDA learned about the vest issue from a July 16 story in the Wall Street Journal about credentialing issues in various sports. It has known about the online restrictions since the NFL owners meeting in March, where the league eased up on restrictions on sideline cameras, which RTNDA had pushed for and applauded--but  reigned in the 'net coverage.

The National Press Photographers Association has also asked the league to scrap the vest policy, arguing in its own letter to Goodell that its members should not be turned into "walking advertisements."