Tax-supported content is public content, right?

Gannet and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association are in a court bat­tle against the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association over the news media’s right to broad­cast high school sports games online.

The ath­letic asso­ci­a­tion is ask­ing the court to declare that it has the sole right to “con­trol trans­mis­sion, Internet stream, photo, image, film, video­tape, audio­tape, writ­ing, draw­ing or other depic­tion or descrip­tion of any game.”

This all comes about after the ath­letic asso­ci­a­tion became upset that the Post-Crescent of Appleton, Wis., a Gannett paper, broad­cast a high school game live on the Web in November.

The news­pa­pers argue this:

Peter Fox, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, said the group believes that the WIAA is assert­ing rights it doesn’t have. Fox said that the orga­ni­za­tion pri­mar­ily rep­re­sents pub­lic schools, funded by tax­pay­ers, which lim­its its abil­ity to enter into con­tracts with pri­vate organizations.  

The ath­letic asso­ci­a­tion issued a state­ment last week say­ing that it isn’t “deny­ing any news­pa­pers from their tra­di­tional method of report­ing on events.” (That’s not what it sounds like to me. –ed)

Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, had this to say:

Tax-supported con­tent is tax­pay­ers’ con­tent. That means that any­one should be able to broad­cast pub­lic events paid for by the pub­lic. This also should include gov­ern­ment meet­ings (which are usu­ally cov­ered by local open-meetings laws).