Browns Gear Up – So Does the Media

As the local NFL team’s management starts its legal battle to take the local TV rights away from CBS affiliate WOIO/19, Cleveland Browns players start their drive to take away ballgames from opponents.

With training camp underway starting today, OMW hears that a LOT, and we mean a LOT of restrictions have been placed on the media covering that camp…much of it a direct result of that very TV station’s behavior last year.

OMW’s eyes and ears in Berea tell us that the various media members are getting photo IDs this year, and that their movements will be able to be tracked electronically by the team. (No word if that electronic tracking system will sound a giant alarm if a member of the “19 Action News” team attempts to swipe bottled water from the fridge.)

But it’s the on-air differences you’ll likely notice. We hear there’ll be no sets or props allowed by TV crews covering the team at training camp. No logos, no helmets. And any live TV shots will have to be approved in writing by the Browns…with no TV or radio reports allowed at ALL from inside the team’s Media Center. And no, the restrictions don’t just apply to WOIO…they apply to everyone.

Les Levine and Neil Bender of FOX Sports Net Ohio/WKNR’s “Cleveland Rants” are going to go off of solely covering baseball and do Browns-related shows the next couple of days – hey, this is Cleveland, and our baseball team is headed for the cellar, aping pre-1990’s days of old.

And SportsTime Ohio also debuts its nightly training camp special tomorrow night.

While we’re talking about the Browns, OMW wonders what kind of play WKYC/3 is able to make for the pre-season Browns games…should the team be able to cut loose from its WOIO contract. We note that Plain Dealer sports/media/real estate columnist Roger Brown thought it’d be something personal for WKYC boss Brooke Spectorsky, who was pushed aside at WUAB when the station first paired up with WOIO – long before the Raycom days.

But…let’s talk practical, here. We note that the Browns pre-season contests this year (if the change happens that early) do not conflict with WKYC’s Cleveland Indians coverage.

All but one Browns pre-season contest, the final pre-season tilt with the Chicago Bears, do conflict with SportsTime Ohio’s coverage of the Indians…but we assume WKYC would have no problem hiring people to juggle those conflicts.

WKYC produces all of SportsTime Ohio’s content, including pre-game and post-game shows, from its in-house high-definition production facility. They’d have to hire a remote truck for the Browns games no matter what, since those facilities are tied to Jacobs Field and the Indians games.

To that end, would WKYC getting the Browns rights also provide another entree for STO to widen its base?

WKYC’s Indians-related content – the weekly show, etc. – also repeats on STO, along with WKYC’s game broadcasts. We have no problem envisioning something of a similar relationship with the Browns content…and a joint bid by both outlets for the Browns contract.

Both Channel 3 and SportsTime Ohio would be very interested…of course, as we reported a while back, WEWS/5 is likely a strong suitor as well.

Again, this all assumes that Browns owner Randy Lerner is successful in beating WOIO’s lawsuit against the team. By the way, it’s totally off topic, but it appears Lerner is also bidding to purchase a “Premier League” English soccer team…

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