Nov
4
2011
Aussie Protest Bringing Eyes to PGA Tour’s Outdated (Social) Media Regulations
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Tweeting/live-blogging at the PGA Championship to provide fans with prime coverage

The Australian press checked out the PGA Tour media regulations for the upcoming Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne, and let’s just say they weren’t big fans. Their complaints resonate with what the American golf media has challenged since the rules haven’t been altered appropriately in a world where so many people rely on social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) for their sports updates from on-site reporters.

First, let’s take a look at the report filed by Tim Dick of the Sydney Morning Herald:

The American organisers of this month’s Presidents Cup tournament in Melbourne, the PGA Tour, have demanded Australian news organisations delay posting scores online by half an hour and not provide readers with real-time coverage.

Under its rules, TV stations would also be banned from showing any footage until Fox Sports and Channel Nine, who hold the broadcast rights, have finished their coverage. Even then, other broadcasters will be allowed to show only three minutes a day if they accept the PGA Tour conditions, despite Australian copyright law protecting news reporting.

My longtime readers may recall the injunction I received early in the season. Well, the Aussies are making it clear they won’t just roll over:

The PGA Tour has a history of suing organisations in the US which publish scores of its tournaments in real time, but the copyright laws in Australia are significantly different.

News Ltd has labelled the rules “completely unacceptable”, and it has been joined by Fairfax Media, owner of the Herald, and several news agencies in refusing to sign the terms on which PGA Tour allows their journalists and photographers to cover the tournament.

Hopefully they’ll come to a resolution, so fans aren’t penalized from receiving the best possible coverage. (Speaking of photos, I wouldn’t have been permitted to post the pic above if it were at a regular PGA Tour event because it’s not from one of the agencies — AP, Getty, etc. — that pay for copyright privileges.)

There’s also the possibility of the Big Brother/Secret Police coming after fans who try to tweet, Facebook, or email info and pics from Royal Melbourne, according to the AAP’s Robert Grant:

Golf fans at the Presidents Cup will be banned from using social media about the event as the tournament shapes as the most restrictive ever staged in Australia.

While a wrangle over accreditation has led to the strong possibility mainstream media will not provide coverage, in a first for this country, organiser the US PGA Tour is set to crack down on ticket-holders.

The PGA Tour could employ under-cover representatives to try to prevent spectators tweeting or emailing information and photos from Royal Melbourne, according to the Newspaper Publishers’ Association.

Association chief executive Mark Hollands told AAP on Thursday people at the tournament need to check closely to see what they can and cannot pass on via social media.

“After a conversation I had with the PGA in the United States, I was left with the impression there would be people on the golf course who would be looking out for twitterers, Facebookers …,” Hollands said.

“This is sport trying to control the internet – it’s about everyone.”

Okay, so I think that part was slightly sensationalized. More on the MSM not backing down to such oppressive regulations on the press:

AAP Editor in Chief Tony Gillies described the conditions as “amongst the worst accreditation terms I have ever seen”.

“We have made every attempt to reassure the PGA that we only seek to report the news and not impinge on broadcast rights holders but all correspondence with organisers has been met with a point blank refusal to work through any of the issues,” Gillies said.

“We genuinely want to gain access to the tournament so we can simply report the news and bring the game to fans but they won’t budge.

“This is a lockdown and the public and tournament sponsors would be mortified if they realised the extent of the PGA’s bloody mindedness.

“It appears to us that general media coverage means very little to the PGA.”

I’m sure your eyes have glazed over by now trying to read all that rhetoric, but I’m liking the bold stance the Aussie press corp is taking — with the Australian Associated Press at the forefront! Maybe such extremes is what it takes to amend the PGA Tour’s “worst accreditation terms ever seen.”

Well, the Tour has responded with this clarification on none other than its Facebook page:

Wanted to clarify some questions regarding social media and fans at The Presidents Cup. As they do at other PGA TOUR events, fans will be able to post to social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and foursquare from the course. Our mobile phone policy prohibits photography during competition (Thursday-Sunday), video captures and detailed “play-by-play” postings, but there will be opportunities for things like this in the Social Media Fan Hub in Interactive Village. We’ll also be holding ‘hide and tweet’ giveaways at Royal Melbourne and a Wednesday fan meetup, and are very excited about having fans like you participate on the course and from all around the world.

In other words, fans can’t take pics and vids, or provide live updates on the grounds, but no worries — they can at select times in a Tour-controlled environment. I’m just confused on how it’s humanly possible to control what thousands of people are writing/posting/updating/sending on their PDAs…Good luck with that.

(Photo by Kyle Auclair/insidetheropes.com)