After hearing from just about every media outlet outside of their TV partners ESPN and CBS, the SEC has indicated that maybe they were a little quick to cut off that much access to the press.
Essentially the SEC media policy is to protect their broadcast partners as well as XOS Technologies, which is getting ready to unveil the SEC Digital Network.
Earlier this spring, when Tennessee's Lane Kiffin accused Florida's Urban Meyer of cheating in recruiting, a fan captured it and posted it on the internet. The SEC would like to make sure that doesn't happen again.
The media policy is designed to drive fan traffic to the SEC schools' websites -- which are about to become a revenue stream for the schools. Each of the websites will have some video that can be accessed for free, but will also have "insider" video that will be seen at a price.
The SEC wants to restrict TV stations from showing any game highlights after 72 hours from the conclusion of the contest. It also forbids the news media from posting practice and news conference video online. It also states at in order to receive a credential to cover an SEC event, the media must sign an agreement to these terms.
If the Big 12 had the SEC media restrictions, no local station would allowed to show highlights from previous games.
The SEC says the intent of the policy was to protect the schools' web sites so certain video could only be seen there. But the restrictions, as currently written are so Draconian, that it makes you wonder if they even bothered to have a lawyer take a look at the policy.
For instance I assume that the 72-hour on game highlights is to keep them off of YouTube, but say a local TV station was putting together a pre-season show, or a special during the season. Or they even wanted to use some highlights as "B-Roll" to cover a player interview. Under the SEC rules, they would be forbidden from doing so after the 72-hour window.
In addition to game coverage, the new media policy also covers pre-and post-game press conferences, practices or any other "event sponsored or hosted by the Southeastern Conference or by any one or more of its member institutions."
That covers a helluva lot of ground, and should keep media lawyers happy for quite a while in SEC country.
Obviously there is precedent to protect restrictions on live game content. And BTW the new rules also say if you are a fan at an SEC contest and you twitter, or blog, or even take a photo and put it on your Facebook page, you can be punished. The personal digital restrictions seem especially silly since those strictly supplement coverage. I find it hard to believe that the number of people who are not at the game, and are not watching it on TV but are following via twitter is a number to be concerned about.
Obviously most of the in-stadium stuff is unenforceable, so fans can probably twitter away without fear of reprisal. But the video and audio restrictions will bring real hardships to all of the local media who have been at the heart of the popularity of the SEC over the years.
But who cares about them anyway? I mean it's not like they are contributing anything to the $2.5 Billion the SEC will collect over the next 15 years from the national media outlets.