Gannett, Wisconsin Newspaper Association Appeal Exclusive Prep Contracts

By: E&P Staff

Gannett Co., publisher of The Post-Crescent in Appleton, Wisc., and the  Wisconsin Newspaper Association (WNA) are appealing a federal court decision  giving the state’s high school sports authority the right to sign exclusive contracts for Internet coverage of state prep tournaments.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association sued Gannett and the WNA in 2008 after the Post-Crescent livestreamed four football playoff games without the WIAA’s permission.

In their appeal, Gannett and the WNA argued that the WIAA is a public institution constitutionally required to provide access to news organization.

For its part, the WIAA said high school tournaments are not public events, and it can legitimately charge fees for access to the events.

Last month, a federal judge for the Western District of Wisconsin declared that the WIAA’s exclusive contract with a company to provide Internet streaming of postseason events does not violate the Post-Crescent’s constitutional rights.

“Ultimately, this is a case about commerce, not the right to a free press,” Conley wrote.

The appeal was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit.

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