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Judge rules in favor of IHSA's pay-to-broadcast policy

Streaming live video is not an inherent right for media outlets. That has always been the policy of the Illinois High School Association. Only now, the IHSA is asserting its legal right to charge news organization for the right to broadcast high school games.

According to Sangamon County 7th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Patrick W. Kelley on Nov. 13, the IHSA is simply upholding the by-laws it has already in the books.

Recently, a news outlet associated with the Illinois Press Association was told that it would not be allowed to live stream a game without paying a fee. Following that, the IPA challenged the ruling.

"This is the ruling we expected," IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman said in a release. "Broadcast rights fees have existed as a part of the Association's policies across all mediums for 30 years, and as new broadcast technology has evolved, such as streaming, it has naturally fallen under that umbrella."

In recent years, the IPA and IHSA had reached a settlement on the right to photograph events, but Hickman said that it "had no carryover into broadcasting of any kind".

According to a release by the IPA, the IHSA "also claims 'ownership' of the championship series ... and as owner, the IHSA claims the right to exclusively broadcast games as it sees fit. The game can be recorded and snippets shown, but the game can not be broadcast live or even played back later in its entirety'.

The ruling does not impact traditional coverage by new outlets, including its right to use snippets of videos for highlight reels, featured videos and things like that.

"The IHSA rules have not changed at all, we were simply challenged on them and the judge sided with us," IHSA Assistant Executive Director Matt Troha told the Morris Daily Herald.

Unaffected by the decision are organizations like the Grundy Area Vocational Center in Morris. For the past two years, that group has been streaming games from the area and it's been well received.

"The whole thing has been a wonderful experience," GAVC Computer Application Instructor Lance Copes said. "At the Coal City game last week we had over 2,500 hits."

An average Morris game has gotten between 5,000 and 8,000 hits, according to Copes.

"We're expecting a lot of hits this weekend," he said.

GAVC will be broadcasting Morris home semifinal game with Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin at 3 p.m. through the use of I-High on the internet. GAVC pays the same rates as anyone else who wants to broadcast games — a fee range which starts at $50 in the first two rounds of the playoffs, moves to $75 for a quarterfinal game and then o $100 for a semifinal game. The IHSA maintains exclusive rights to the football finals from all classes.

"Fees range from $50 to $100 to webcast depending on the sport and level," Troha confirmed.

Organizations such as GAVC have the opportunity to broadcast non-exclusive IHSA events for free if the instruction and technology is in place to have it completely a student-run operation.

"The IHSA wouldn't charge anything if it was student run," Copes said. "We use I-High to live stream the games but if we could afford (the technological upgrade at GAVC) we would. It is something we are considering."

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