Augusta school board backs controversial broadcast media rules

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Working over center court, the Munzing Media team cover an Eastern Class A tournament match between Skowhegan and Bangor on February 15, 2013 at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan / Kennebec Journal dossier

While it was a split vote, Augusta’s Board of Education on Wednesday approved the first reading of a controversial new policy regulating how broadcasters cover Cony School events.

Board members voted 4-2 to approve the new rules, previously twice denied by the school board over what members said was a lack of input from broadcasters who would be affected by the policy. School officials believe the settlement is the first of its kind in a Maine school system.

Broadcasters who have previously covered Cony’s sporting events on the radio and the internet have said if the policy is passed they will no longer cover or broadcast any home games from Cony.

The two board members who voted against the policy, Pia Holmes and Kati McCormick, said an effort should be made to contact members of the broadcast media to get their views on the policy. Parents, Cony’s alumni and others have expressed disappointment that the policy could result in Cony’s matches not being broadcast by media that allowed them to follow Cony’s teams when they cannot attend in no one.

“My feeling is that we should have everyone at the table to really discuss it. If we could sit down with the stakeholders, the media, chat with them and come to a deal that works for everyone, ”said Holmes. “If we could just follow through on what has been said about the media contribution, I would feel more comfortable supporting that. It bothers me that there has been a discord in the community about this.

The policy has been referred by the school board to its policy committee, twice previously, with instructions for the committee to seek the advice of broadcasters. However, committee member Amanda Olson said that in general, the way the board solicits comments on policies is by posting polls on the schools website and allowing the public to comment on them.

Olson said the committee considered asking broadcasters for their views on the policy, but Cony’s principal Kim Silsby, one of the policy’s main advocates and writers, told him that to be consistent with how other policies are adopted, public input on policy should be taken via online survey method.

Olson said board members heard from media representatives at a previous board meeting and that some comments on the latest policy poll appeared to be coming from broadcasters.

Mike Violette, right, broadcasts live on December 6, 2019, the Cony at Lawrence boys’ basketball game on WSKW Legacy 1160 radio station. On her morning radio show on December 10, Violette said that he objected to the live broadcast rules proposed for Cony High Games. Photo from Journal Kennebec by Joe Phelan Buy this photo

At a December 2019 board meeting, Mike Violette of Mix Maine Media, who hosts a morning show and broadcasts high school sports events for the Legacy 1160 WSKW radio station, said if the policy is passed as proposed, they would no longer cover Cony’s home games.

Rob Munzing, of Munzing Media, who covers many sporting and other events at local high schools, and who once covered Cony events, also said they will no longer cover Cony’s home games due to politics.

Board member Kevin Lamoreau referred to Munzing’s statements on Twitter that Muzing Media will no longer cover Cony’s home games due to politics, making his take on politics clear.

“I’m not sure the stakeholders want to sit down and talk about it, I think some stakeholders are strongly against this,” Lamoreau said. “I’m not sure what that would accomplish. This is the first reading, there is still time to contact us before it becomes political.

The revised policy significantly reduced the proposed fees for radio, television and internet broadcast entities to broadcast Cony‘s sports, which was a concern expressed at the December meeting. He initially provided $ 50 for each regular season game and $ 100 for each playoff game. This proposal was adjusted to an annual processing fee of $ 25 that would cover events for a school year.

But restrictions on broadcasters remain, including a requirement for “objective reporting” and a ban on inappropriate criticism from officials, coaches, teams, players, schools or other entities.

He provides examples of inappropriate criticism: “This official clearly has no idea what he’s doing.” “Coach Smith should be fired. “Joe Smith shouldn’t start.”

And an appropriate criticism: “We don’t know what resulted in the sanction. We will seek further clarification. Coach Smith made a mistake which now has his team down late in the game. Joe Smith is really struggling right now. We’ll see if he can bounce back.

The policy would also require broadcasters to submit the names of all sponsors and allow the school department to review all advertisements for airing during broadcast. In a tweet, Munzing said he would not submit his sponsors for approval to Cony officials. He said other schools in Maine welcome their coverage of school events without restrictions.

Board members who voted to approve the policy on Wednesday said it would help protect students.

“The ultimate goal has always been ‘protect the students’,” said Staci Fortunato, chair of the policy committee. “It sounds restrictive, like we’re trying to shut down all streaming of our games, but it’s not true. We provide an opportunity and set guidelines for people who want to stream our games. “

Deputy Superintendent Donna Madore said 16 people responded to a survey on the policy, some of whom were school administrators, while other respondents included parents and citizens.

She said a majority of respondents, 61%, were in favor of the policy. Comments left via the polls included “if no one broadcasts, the spirit of the games school will suffer”, “it shows how much the district cares about student athletes”, “I see no benefit from the policy “And” the world we live in being full of people who say and do whatever they want, this policy protects students from those who may be mean.

Silsby said the intent of the policy was to support and protect Augusta’s students by addressing a number of issues. Administrators based the policy on that of a school in Florida, as none existed in Maine.


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