(Fred Weinberg/The Penny Press) – Last week we got into a fight over, of all things, broadcasting a high school football game.
Now, as many people know, we have a number of radio stations including KNNR (1400 on your AM radio dial) which is located in the Reno market.
Over the years, we have gone out of our way to broadcast high school sports because of the good will it engenders with parents, educators and kids. The money is secondary because, in a good season, we’ll break even. KNNR has been following the Reed Raiders this year for two reasons. First, KNNR is licensed to Sparks, where Reed is also located, and, second, by broadcasting Reed’s schedule we get almost every school in the area on the air at least once.
Our play-by-play man, Lee Adams, is a pro and the folks at the school have been very co-operative and very appreciative of the broadcasts which are designed to highlight the successes of not only the team but the staff and students at Reed.
Reed, to put it mildly, has had a good season. In fact, they’ll be playing Bishop Gorman from Las Vegas this week for, what for all practical purposes, is the state championship of their division.
We had intended to broadcast the Reed-Damonte Ranch Northern Championship game last Friday, but on Tuesday morning, I got a call from the executive director of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, Eddie Bonine, to tell me that since they have an EXCLUSIVE contract with a guy named Dan Gustin to both televise and simulcast the game on another radio station, we would not be allowed to broadcast the game. Never mind that we had done Reed’s whole season.
I immediately put in a call to Pedro Martinez, the Superintendent of the Washoe County School District who is still hiding under his desk, having not returned that call.
What I was going to tell Mr. Martinez is that this wouldn’t pass the smell test in one of his high school’s civics classes. (They do still teach civics, these days, don’t they?)
Originally, I took the position that we simply would never broadcast any event other than a school board meeting, ever again.
But I met a Reed booster who happens to be a very good lawyer and he suggested we look into this a little further.
Here’s some of what we discovered.
The NIAA is a quasi state agency. It was created by an act of the legislature and is allowed to write sections of the Nevada Administrative Code which have the effect of state law unless a judge says they overstepped or the legislature removes them.
These clowns gave themselves the right to regulate broadcasting from the games because, well, because they thought they could. In other words, high school sports in Nevada are such a hot product that we need to control who broadcasts it. According to one of their officials, it has to be someone “reputable”. People who have multi-million dollar investments in radio and television stations apparently aren’t “reputable” enough to put on a good show.
Forgetting the legal implications (which we may explore all the way up to the Nevada Supreme Court unless some things change in the coming week) think about what a stupid policy this is.
The school districts want civilian businesspeople to be involved in the educational process, don’t they? (That’s a rhetorical question for Mr. Martinez’s benefit.)
KNNR employs several interns from WCSD high schools, at least one of whom works on the broadcasts and goes to the school that the principal of is the NIAA Board of Control’s President. (And, he hasn’t returned our call, either. Surely he and Martinez are not hiding under the same desk.)
It’s not enough of a job for the NIAA to worry about things like student eligibility, referees, safety, etc.
No, these guys have to be so self-important that they want to control the media, too.
Is it just a coincidence that the guy who has this purported EXCLUSIVE contract also happens to own the building in Reno which houses the NIAA? We don’t know, but in view of the fact that we are entitled to answers, we are going to keep asking the questions until we get some. Perhaps in court.
We don’t view this primarily as a legal issue. It’s a public policy issue.
Our position is that if 35 radio stations wanted to broadcast that game they should be able to. If 35 newspapers wanted to cover the game they could. Would they be able to have an exclusive newspaper contract? Even the NFL—which IS privately owned—doesn’t try to get away with that.
We’re talking about two public high schools playing on a state-owned field.
You want an example of what happens when government (or a quasi-governmental agency) sticks its nose where it doesn’t belong.
Lunacy like this.