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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NCAA Sticking it to Student Broadcasters

One of the greatest aspects of my college days, without question, was being able to broadcast UCLA athletics, including football games at the Rose Bowl, and basketball games at Pauley Pavilion. By the time I got to UCLA, the campus radio station (KLA), had lost its signal, and the station was available strictly online at www.uclaradio.com. Regardless of whether or not these games were available on an actual radio station, or just a crappy website nobody visited, calling games for the station was one of the best experiences I had while in school. Unfortunately for the current group of student-broadcasters at UCLA Radio, they no longer have the same pleasure. Not only were they not allowed to live-broadcast games this year because of a conflict of interest with the CSTV.com service, but they came to find out that they would not be allowed to call the games of the Bruins as they make their tournament run. That’s right, a team that has a legit shot at winning a national title won’t have its students broadcasting the games in which their peers are participating.

Kyle Hyman, who many of you know on this site as “The Driver,” is the director of the sports department at UCLA Radio. After fighting through red tape the past several weeks, he finally received an answer to his request to broadcast games (only three days prior to UCLA’s first game), from the NCAA. Their answer was no. Apparently Westwood One Radio wants to enforce their exclusivity as the sole radio provider of the NCAA tournament. No matter that UCLA Radio has never had an online audience of greater than 500 listeners. No matter that there is no advertising on the broadcasts. No matter that other student radio stations have been approved to call games and had their rights fees waived, such as USC, which broadcasts for a school that has a small student radio station. Nope.

Instead, they are crushing the dreams of several aspiring student broadcasters who might otherwise have the opportunity to call NCAA tournament games for a potential national championship team and form lasting memories. It’s a shame that the NCAA and Westwood One can’t get together on this to work out a better policy in the future, one that doesn’t include preventing internet only stations with tiny audiences and no revenue, from broadcasting games.

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