Radio & Television News Association

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sheriff's Office Responds to RTNA Complaints

RTNA Files Complaint Regarding Media Access:
Many journalists have contacted the RTNA regarding their being denied access to the Urban Garden Eviction, thereby restricting coverage. Apparently, members of the media were not allowed to stand on a public sidewalk and cover the story.

RTNA's legal counsel, Royal Oakes, contacted the LA Sheriff's office in response to the complaints and expressed our concern that our First Amendment rights had been violated. Sheriff Lee Baca took the time to respond personally to Royal's letter.

The Sheriff's viewpoint:
The Sheriff's view is that the sidewalk -- which we argued should have been open to the press and the public, such that reporters should not have been pushed off of it and across the railroad tracks -- was actually used as a temporary holding area for prisoners, as the area had been designated a crime scene. I think it's good we got a personal reply from the Sheriff -- it indicates our complaint was taken seriously; he invites us to contact him directly if we want, or go through Chief Martinez, to follow up on this.

Below is an excerpt from the letter from the Sheriff's office:
"We empathize with your concern for full access of the media. Nevertheless, such access must be balanced against the Department's need to secure a crime scene. the area described in your letter was temporarily declared a crime scene when, during the execution of an eviction, people on the land refused to comply with the court's order to vacate which was considered a criminal act in violation of Penal Code 166. The sidewalk in question was utilized as a temporary holding area for prisoners and access was restricted to law enforcement personnel providing security. the area was adjacent to an access point leading onto the private property in question and the restriction was not lifted until the prisoners were removed from the area."

Please Comment:
If you'd like to comment on it you can do so on this blog, or contact the RTNA directly. We're always interested in hearing your comments and concerns.

Media access is an ongoing concern of the RTNA, and we've been getting a lot more complaints and evidence of access being restricted lately. If you've ever had your access restricted, please let us know right away and we'll look into it. The more evidence you can provide, the better.
You can contact the RTNA at: 562-987-4545.

July 15th Mixer a Big Success

The annual RTNA mixer was held at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos on July 15th, and it was a resounding success!

Many journalists and PIOs attended and schmoozed with each other as well as meeting members of the military and getting a tour of the weapons/convoy training simulators.

Steve Kindred, RTNA president presided and addressed the crowd of more than 50 attendees, and many friendships were created or renewed. Several stations were represented as well as newspapers, and schools of journalism.

The weather was perfect and the food was excellent. Most importantly, it gave all of us a chance to meet and greet each other and talk about our profession without deadlines or pressures. All in all, an excellent program that we look forward to repeating next year.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

FCC combing air tapes for dirty words

FCC combing air tapes for dirty words
By Brooks Boliek

In its continuing crackdown on on-air profanity, the FCC has requested numerous tapes from broadcasters that might include vulgar remarks from unruly spectators, coaches and athletes at live sporting events, industry sources said.

Tapes requested by the commission include live broadcasts of football games and NASCAR races where the participants or the crowds let loose with an expletive. While commission officials refused to talk about its requests, one broadcast company executive said the commission had asked for 30 tapes of live sports and news programs.

"It looks like they want to end live broadcast TV," said one executive, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. "We already know that they aren't afraid to go after news."

While live programming always has been problematic for broadcasters, it has become even more difficult under tougher commission rules approved in 2004. The new rules found that virtually any use of certain expletives will be considered profane and indecent, even if it is a slip of the tongue. In a March decision, the FCC found that the CBS news program "The Early Show" violated its indecency rules because of a profane slip-up but did not issue a fine because the incident occurred before the new rules were instituted.

Live sports -- amateur, college and professional -- have long been a broadcast programming staple. Broadcasters have spent enormous amounts of money and energy to come up with ways to give audiences a better feel for the action. As broadcasters vie for viewers, technical advances that include such things as on-field microphones and in-car cameras have become as important as the announcers.

"I don't know how they are going to rule, but they asked us for tapes with a specific emphasis on crowd noise," said another TV executive, who also requested anonymity. "If some bozo in the crowd calls the ref an asshole, the commission is asking for a copy of the tape."A live, on-field event -- albeit when no athletes were on the field -- during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, when Janet Jackson's breast was accidentally bared, helped reignite Washington's interest in the indecency issue. Since then there has been a highly charged fight at the commission about just how far the commission can go in restricting broadcasts.