Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sports Marketing Correction

In reference to an earlier post on sports marketing, Nathan Ford would prefer that those who wish to contact him use his school email--

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sports Marketing help needed

Nathan Ford, a 21-year old student-athlete at Johns Hopkins, emailed me recently asking for information about sports marketing programs around the country. He didn't say so specifically, but it sounds like he's interested in pursuing that and wants to see what's out there. If you can help him out with some information you can post a reply here or email him directly at

Good luck Nathan ...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Indecency Regulation Alive and Well in the Senate

I wanted to update you on the latest events in the ongoing indecency wars. On July 17, a copy of my article in SportsBusiness Journal noted the potential effect of the FCC's "fleeting expletive" standard on sports broadcasts, despite the recent ruling by a federal appeals court vacating that standard.

Before the FCC even decided on what to do, my fears that Congress would put in its two cents have been realized. Senators Rockefeller (R-W.Va), Inouye (D-Hawaii), Stevens (R-Alaska) and Pryor (D-Arkansas) introduced the "Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act" which states the the FCC "shall maintain a policy that a single word or image may constitute indecent programming." The measure was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee on July 19th by a voice vote.

FCC Chair Kevin Martin lauded the passage of the measure. The vote, he stated, "affirmed the Commission’s ability to protect our children from indecent language and images on television and radio. Significantly, members of Congress stated once again what we on the Commission and every parent already knows; even a single word or image can indeed be indecent."

The committee approved a hastily drafted measure that ignores the mandates of the June 4th ruling, where the court in Fox v. FCC concluded that the FCC failed to justify changing its longstanding contextual policy for determining indecency to one of an isolated fleeting expletive. With the Senate Committee's actions and an apparently fast track to the full Senate, it is likely that a court will soon have to consider the First Amendment implications of this bill, assuming it becomes law.

Based on prior precedent and policy, I think that this bill is constitutionally defective as an overbroad regulation of protected speech. However, but sports broadcasters and their lobbyists should track this bill and attempt to insert the kind of "safe harbor" provision exempting them from liability from uncontrolled and unforeseen use of expletives during their broadcasts.

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The republic seems to have survived the U.S. debut of David Beckham, despite the typical ESPN overkill. Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated had a good article on Beckham's MLS debut Saturday, which was covered more like an Academy Awards show than a soccer match.

Some may argue that the coverage reeked of excess and overkill, which of course it did. But it's still ESPN's best strategy, given the celebrity-conscious nature of our culture. But there's two bigger cultural problems that all of ESPN's money and coverage can't fix. Primarily, Americans won't watch professional soccer. The same American kids who play soccer by the millions apparently ignore the sport when they become adults. Every four years U.S. fans might tune in to a few minutes of the World Cup, but then it's back to football, basketball and baseball.

The other big problem is Beckham himself. U.S. sports fans have always preferred home-grown sports stars to expensive imports. Pele made a big splash when he came to the NASL in the 1970s, but not enough to save the league. Wayne Gretzky was supposed to save the NHL in Los Angeles, but now the league is barely breathing south of Philadelphia. Once upon a time Indy racing boasted names like Foyt, Rutherford and Mears. Now, with a cast comprised mainly of foreign drivers, its position as the premier racing league in America has been firmly supplanted by NASCAR, which features local drivers and teams.

ESPN got the ratings spike it wanted for Beckham's debut, but it will be interesting to see what happens when the curiosity factor wears off. And no matter how much the network pushed the celebrity angle Saturday night it could not hide the fact that the game ended 1-0--another low-scoring, not-made-for-prime-time soccer match. No matter how much lipstick you put on it, a pig is still just a pig.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Until later

Just to let you know I am on an extensive family tour of the Midwest and probably won't be able to blog again until July 30. I'm sure our family of sports media bloggers will keep everyone informed.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fleeting expletives

We welcome Mark Conrad to the JSM blog. Mark is an Associate Professor of Legal and Ethical Studies at Fordham and writes a lot on sports law. The article below appeared in a recent edition of the Sport Business Journal--

Although many pages have been written on the subject of broadcast indecency, sports broadcasts pose some unique problems. Expletives from players, coaches and fans in a live broadcasts could result in fines by the FCC, especially when it adopted a "fleeting expletives" standard in 2003. Last month's ruling federal appeals court ruling forces the FCC back to the drawing board, but does not preclude an appeal.

Can a sports broadcaster be fined for transmitting a four-letter word said by a player, coach or fans during a match? For the last four years, the Federal Communications Commission concluded yes. In May, a federal appeals court forcefully said no. In the equivalent of a technical knockout, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit handed the FCC a stinging defeat when a majority concluded that the agency's 2003 rules expanding the definition of indecency and profanity to isolated instances known as "fleeting expletives" were "arbitrary and capricious." According to the majority opinion in the 2-1 ruling, the commission's explanations did not justify such an expansion. The ruling forced the agency to come up with a more compelling justification, one that the judges doubted the FCC could do.

Although much space has been devoted to the issue involving 'shock jocks' like Howard Stern, far less has focused on the effect of the 2003 rules on live sports broadcasts and the heavy fines imposed by the FCC. For those radio and television sports rights holders, the specter of six-figure fines for four-letter words resulted in a series of difficult decisions, such as the use of time delays or otherwise 'sanitizing' the production by avoiding miking to produce as 'safe' a broadcast as possible.

With the ruling in Fox v. FCC, all broadcasters, but particularly sports broadcasters, can breathe a sigh of relief. Think of the implications if the court had upheld the commission's claim that a fleeting expletive violates indecency and profanity restrictions. Those of us who remember John McEnroe not only recall his tennis exploits, but also his argumentative skills. More than once his protests against officials were laced with profanities, some of which were heard live by millions. If these rants had occurred in 2006 instead of 1986, broadcasters likely would have been sanctioned, to the tune of up to $325,000 per violation under the 2006 Broadcast Indecency Enforcement Act, where Congress raised the maximum fine for an indecency infraction tenfold to $325,000.

Since taking the helm of the FCC, both former Chairman Michael Powell and his successor, Kevin Martin, have made indecency a focal point of their agenda. Although a federal statute barring obscenity, indecency and profanity on the air has been on the books for decades, the first indecency determination did not occur until the mid-1970s when the Supreme Court, in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, concluded that a repetitive monologue of 'seven dirty words' constituted indecency. The court upheld the agency's definition —
"language that describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory activities and organs, at times of the day (from 6 a.m.. to 10 p.m.) when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the au. to 10 p.m.) when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience."

However, to avoid charges of censorship, the FCC maintained a policy exempting fleeting expletives, covering isolated occurrences where four-letter words picked up from live events make it on air. The shift from that policy did not occur in the highly publicized Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction event during the 2004 Super Bowl, but rather in a series of determinations in previous years. The use of certain four-letter words, including the f-word, by Bono, Cher and Nicole Richie during the live broadcasts of the 2003 Golden Globe Awards (NBC) and the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards (Fox), respectively, led the FCC to conclude that the "patently offensive" use of these words were indecent and profane, despite their fleeting nature. Admitting that this was a change of policy, the FCC did not impose fines, since the broadcasters had no notice of the policy change. NBC and Fox appealed to the federal courts.

Let's think of the ramifications of this interpretation in the context of a sports broadcast. What if fans start yelling four-letter words while protesting a call and the public can hear those protests? What if a microphone picks up the sounds of players cursing? Or the game officials? Each of these events, coupled with the increased fines under the 2006 Decency in Broadcasting Act, chills the broadcaster's First Amendment rights, but is discriminatory as well, since cable and satellite programming is not subject to the indecency standards.
But sports broadcasters should note that the 2nd Circuit's ruling represents a temporary victory. It did not address the constitutional questions, but rather focused on the lack of evidence for the FCC's conclusions. The court gave the FCC the opportunity to justify the rules. And if the FCC wishes, it may either seek a rehearing in front of the entire body of judges in the federal appeals court or an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Given that 2008 is an election year, Congress may take it upon itself to pass legislation codifying a standard that encompasses isolated expletives, or expand indecency to cable and satellite. Given the amount of sporting events on these media, this could be an ominous development. No matter what the courts rule or the FCC decides, sports broadcasters, cable companies and satellite providers and their trade associations may want to consider a different resolution of the problem: a political one. If Congress enacts legislation expanding indecency to cable and satellite, let it create a special exemption, a legislative waiver of liability for live sports broadcasts. Such a solution would create a legal certainty in a very controversial and legally fluid area.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Two more CFPs and help ...

Another posting here from sports media researchers looking for help in conducting their work. Please read the calls and feel free to contact the individuals if you want to help:

1. I am finishing a paper about the reaction of the media and fans in New York and Austria following the move by Red Bull to take over these clubs and name them after their drink. I am looking for someone, faculty or grad student, who might want to coauthor. Ideally, I would like to find someone who knows German so they could do a content analysis of newspaper accounts in the Austrian media. Failing that, I would like to find someone with an interest in international sports marketing.

Ric Jensen, Ph.D.Assistant Research Scientist
Texas Water Resources Institute
21181500 Research Parkway, Suite 240-A
College Station, TX 77843-2118

2. Special Issue of Football Studies: Call for Papers--Football stars: understanding celebrity across the football codes

Football, in its various forms, plays an important role in societies across the globe. Although the specific code may change from nation to nation, the football star often functions as a representative of particular ideals that she/he carries with them through their success or failure as an athlete. In many of the football codes the (post)modern player has become a commodity,snatched up by the media and lapped-up by the fans. Is it is ultimately this process that fashions their identity or character? Focusing upon a football star, as a site for exploring the complex interrelated and fluid character of power and identity relations, presents worthwhile opportunities for examining the place of football in contemporary society. Although there has been much valuable research published on sporting celebrity, including works on association football, there has been little work on athletes from many of the other football codes. This special issue of Football Studies aims to expand this area of research activity and welcomes papers on any football code. Themes that might be addressed include:·

The changing historical significance of football stars·
(Re)presentations of celebrity outside and beyond of the dominantfootball code·
Changing (re)presentations of football as it relates to race, gender, class, nation and sexuality· Comparative studies which address the differences in(re)presentations linked to any of the above.·
The role of fandom in the 'construction' of football celebrity·
Football stars as 'cultural intermediaries'·
The standing of contemporary football 'stars' in the postmodern celebrity pecking order

Expressions of Interest: Please submit a 200 word abstract to John Harris for consideration by 31 July, 2007. Deadline: Final papers must be submitted by 30 September. The expected publication date is December 2007 in Football Studies 10(1/2).

Contact details--
John Harris PhD Associate Professor School of Exercise, Leisure and Sport
Kent State University
Kent, Ohio, 44242 USA

Saturday, July 14, 2007

CFP: Global Television Formats

One of the things we try to do at JSM is help fellow sports media researchers. Sharon Shahaf at Texas and Tasha Oren at Wisconsin-Milwaukee are looking for contributors to an upcoming publication on global television formats. If you can contribute, feel free to contact them using the information below.
Call for papers: Global Television Formats

Additional contributions are sought for a collection on global television formats forthcoming from Routledge Press. Programming formulae that are exchanged, adapted or cloned for production in multiple localities worldwide have long been staples of international television. Few televisual shifts, however, have so shaken the global media environment as the current explosion of global format circulation. For some,the global format itself constitutes an alternative model of media globalization as contemporary increase in flow, trade, "pirate" adaptation and visibility of global television formats challenge established understandings and offer new theoretical models for scholars and critics.When viewed historically, or in conjunction with technological developments, industrial strategies and textual migrations beyond the boundaries of nation, schedule, playback media, and viewing conventions, the current television environment presents substantial and creative challenges for media studies. Focusing on the global format, the collection features contemporary scholarship that addresses the complex televisual exchanges of format texts, styles, industries, regulatory institutions, audiences, and meanings.To complete the volume, we seek essays in the following categories:

*Geographical areas: Essays addressing contemporary or historical formats in East Asia, Africa or Europe.
*Beyond reality tv: Essays that engage with less visible global formats such as sports and news programming (historical or contemporary).
*Institutions/Industries/Audience: Essays that approach the study of television formats through institutional, technological, or viewership perspectives.
*Global Television Studies: Studies that focus on style, generic convention or the multiple contact zones of television as a global textual system.

Please send abstract of 500-900 words (or essay) by Sept. 30 to Tasha Oren( and Sharon Shahaf ( inquiries,essays and abstracts are welcome anytime until the deadline.

Tasha Oren
Associate Professor of English and Media StudiesDirector
The Film Studies Program
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
PO Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201
(414) 229-4869

Sharon Shahaf
Assistant Instructor, PhD candidate
Department of Radio-TV-Film
The University of Texas at Austin
6901-D Thorncliffe Dr.
Austin TX, 78731

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Content analysis project call for collaborators

I am seeking collaborators for a content analysis project I am planning. This will study trends in newspaper sports coverage, examining several metropolitan newspapers over several decades.

Among the issues we will be looking at include the use of local vs. wire copy and coverage of participant vs. spectator sports. Plus, other trends can be measured, based on the interest of collaborators.

The goal is to produce data that all collaborators can use in generating scholarship in their areas of interest.

If you are interested in more details, please e-mail me directly at

John Carvalho
Assistant Professor of Journalism
Auburn University

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

JSM submissions

My thanks to all of you who submitted a paper for consideration in the 3rd issue of the Journal of Sports Media. In just three years the number of submissions has jumped from 16 to 25 to 28. More importantly, the quality of research has also improved, which is why we need to consider publishing more frequently than just once a year.

For some reason content analyses were popular this submission period with nearly a dozen papers using that methodological approach. Gender and sports continues to be a hot topic, but we also got a few historical papers.

The papers are now out for review, but if you are interested in reviewing for JSM in the future please let me know. You can reach me at