Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Browns Gear Up - So Does the Media

As the local NFL team's management starts its legal battle to take the local TV rights away from CBS affiliate WOIO/19, Cleveland Browns players start their drive to take away ballgames from opponents.

With training camp underway starting today, OMW hears that a LOT, and we mean a LOT of restrictions have been placed on the media covering that camp...much of it a direct result of that very TV station's behavior last year.

OMW's eyes and ears in Berea tell us that the various media members are getting photo IDs this year, and that their movements will be able to be tracked electronically by the team. (No word if that electronic tracking system will sound a giant alarm if a member of the "19 Action News" team attempts to swipe bottled water from the fridge.)

But it's the on-air differences you'll likely notice. We hear there'll be no sets or props allowed by TV crews covering the team at training camp. No logos, no helmets. And any live TV shots will have to be approved in writing by the Browns...with no TV or radio reports allowed at ALL from inside the team's Media Center. And no, the restrictions don't just apply to WOIO...they apply to everyone.

Les Levine and Neil Bender of FOX Sports Net Ohio/WKNR's "Cleveland Rants" are going to go off of solely covering baseball and do Browns-related shows the next couple of days - hey, this is Cleveland, and our baseball team is headed for the cellar, aping pre-1990's days of old.

And SportsTime Ohio also debuts its nightly training camp special tomorrow night.

While we're talking about the Browns, OMW wonders what kind of play WKYC/3 is able to make for the pre-season Browns games...should the team be able to cut loose from its WOIO contract. We note that Plain Dealer sports/media/real estate columnist Roger Brown thought it'd be something personal for WKYC boss Brooke Spectorsky, who was pushed aside at WUAB when the station first paired up with WOIO - long before the Raycom days.

But...let's talk practical, here. We note that the Browns pre-season contests this year (if the change happens that early) do not conflict with WKYC's Cleveland Indians coverage.

All but one Browns pre-season contest, the final pre-season tilt with the Chicago Bears, do conflict with SportsTime Ohio's coverage of the Indians...but we assume WKYC would have no problem hiring people to juggle those conflicts.

WKYC produces all of SportsTime Ohio's content, including pre-game and post-game shows, from its in-house high-definition production facility. They'd have to hire a remote truck for the Browns games no matter what, since those facilities are tied to Jacobs Field and the Indians games.

To that end, would WKYC getting the Browns rights also provide another entree for STO to widen its base?

WKYC's Indians-related content - the weekly show, etc. - also repeats on STO, along with WKYC's game broadcasts. We have no problem envisioning something of a similar relationship with the Browns content...and a joint bid by both outlets for the Browns contract.

Both Channel 3 and SportsTime Ohio would be very interested...of course, as we reported a while back, WEWS/5 is likely a strong suitor as well.

Again, this all assumes that Browns owner Randy Lerner is successful in beating WOIO's lawsuit against the team. By the way, it's totally off topic, but it appears Lerner is also bidding to purchase a "Premier League" English soccer team...


Anonymous said...

Look for FSN Ohio to get involved in the bidding for some of the team related programming - if not the preseason games as well (although they do need to be on an over-the-air tv station)

FSN Ohio has already cultivated a relationship with the Browns and STO getting involved is a bit of a long shot. Jim Libertore has gone on record saying so.

Ohio Media Watch said...

Interesting point. One big thing behind that - FSN Ohio needs programming, though not as much in the fall as they do at this time of year.

Still, without the Indians rights, they're definitely gearing up to do Other Things besides being the Cavs' cable/satellite outlet.

Our thoughts are generally that if STO did get involved, it'd be mainly as a partner to WKYC. You are correct - the games will have to be on an over-air station (We believe the NFL requires that.)

As such, WKYC can be the driving force, and STO can offer up some of its airtime for the extra stuff. It would give the Browns more exposure - the non-game programming on two channels - at a minimum cost to STO.

We'll be watching.


ES said...

yes, but there is a small chance that the browns might actually win this lawsuit. Id bet that WOIO keeps the games.

Anonymous said...

But would the whole lineup be carried outside of Cleveland? Here in Youngstown STO only carries the games nothing else. For STO to be sucessful, they are going to need other programming outside of the Indians. But if they were to get the Browns, and Cavs, in addition to the Indians where would that leave FSO. Cleveland has 2 regional sports channels. STO and FSO, a very common thing for a mid to large market but without the local programming spread out, one will fail.

Anonymous said...

Unless something radically changed (a near-impossibility with the NFL), there is NO chance that either FSN or STO will ever air the Browns...because not everyone has cable, and the pre-season games cannot be solely on pay-TV. Other "related" programs involving the Browns may be an option, but those shows have a LIMITED audience. They're basically a coaches "spin" thing, and intolerable to watch. Let's face it, the Browns are covered to DEATH by every news station and radio talk show in town. The games are what matter, not the other hype-nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much of these new media restrictions have less to do with the Ch 19 thing and more of the NFL playing hardball with local stations including keeping local shooters off the field during the games

Anonymous said...

The NFL is closing it's doors to the very media outlets that helped the NFL build a loyal following.
The plan is to drive all veiwers to the NFL Network, a place that the NFL has total control of stories in an effort to gard it's image.

Local media should stop covering the NFL. This is all about greed and control.
It's amazing this leage uses public funds to build a private enterprise, then locks out the local media that severs the public.

This is all the controlling nature of a dark organization headed up by Steve Bornstien.