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).