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TonyR
09-24-2009, 10:34 AM
...you'll LOVE this!


ESPN, Patriots create an obvious conflict of interest
Posted by Mike Florio on September 24, 2009 9:52 AM ET

Maybe ESPN wants to be criticized.

That's the only explanation we can identify in the wake of the bizarre news from SportsBusiness Daily that ESPN has hired Kraft Sports Group to sell local advertising for the fledgling ESPNBoston.com.

That's Kraft Sports Group. As in Robert Kraft. As in the owner of the New England Patriots.

Even more amazing is that the SBD report from John Ourand and Daniel Kaplan doesn't even bat an eye at one of the most blatant and obvious conflicts of interest we ever have seen.

This is well beyond, in our view, the placement of a CBS-themed restaurant at Patriot Place, which has raised some talk of a conflict of interest between the Pats and the network that televises the Sunday afternoon AFC package of games.

This is a sports news outlet entering into a significant business partnership with one of the handful of teams that will be covered by the ESPNBoston.com site.

It's surreal, frankly.

That said, the new civil suit against Tom Brady, which gives new meaning to the term "shotgun wedding," has been addressed at ESPNBoston.com. But there's not a single mention of the serious claims made against one of the top quarterbacks in the league on the mother ship's mother site -- not even on the supposedly ESPN.com AFC East blog.

It's almost as if a conscious decision has been made to slip the thing onto the Boston-focused arm of ESPN.com, without exposing the broader audience to the news.

Regardless of whether ESPN.com huddled with one or more members of the Kraft group to craft a strategy for mentioning the Brady lawsuit on a scaled-down basis to avoid the kind of criticism that ESPN experienced for keeping its head buried in casino chips as to the civil lawsuit against Ben Roethlisberger, the business relationship between ESPN and the group that owns an NFL team invites such scrutiny.

So, from this point forward, every thing said or written by ESPN about the Patriots needs to be considered in light of this relationship.

Meanwhile, we'll wait to see what Don Ohlmeyer has to say about this one in the monthly ombudsman column that still ends up buried at the bottom of the alphabet junkyard.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2009/09/24/espn-patriots-create-an-obvious-conflict-of-interest/

bronco militia
09-24-2009, 10:55 AM
yawn....

Beantown Bronco
09-24-2009, 11:04 AM
I don't understand where the conflict comes into play I guess. Most baseball teams take it a big step forward and have their own major networks: Yanks, Sox, Braves come to mind immediately.

TonyR
09-24-2009, 11:17 AM
I don't understand where the conflict comes into play I guess. Most baseball teams take it a big step forward and have their own major networks: Yanks, Sox, Braves come to mind immediately.

I agree that's it's not really that big of a deal. But I see ESPN as different from the examples you've provided above. The local/regional networks that are affiliated with teams are obviously biased. But ESPN is a national organization that covers and broadcasts all teams. Having specific business interests with specific teams clearly calls into question their ability to objectively report on the leagues they cover.

DeuceOfClub
09-24-2009, 11:19 AM
Here the big problem:
ESPN might feel the need to rank the Patriots higher on their "Power Ranking".
That's a big conflict of interest.

Stewart Scott is in Gillette Stadium with the latest:
"Yo, yo, yo, s'up? ............... Booyah!"

Kyle
09-24-2009, 11:58 AM
MNF also brings some questions in. Backdoor dealing like "OK, we wont ask to have any pats games to drag you into a terrible ratings time. You can stay on Sunday when people still want to watch football, not the broken MNF Franchise."

bronco militia
09-24-2009, 12:07 PM
I guess I'm bored with florios's "gotcha game"....he sucks at this

lex
09-24-2009, 12:22 PM
It is a big deal. Theres also that fan center that CBS/Les Moonves has partnered with Kraft on.

Its a conflict because, like was said, these guys are national outlets and are supposed to provide coverage that is free from bias. Now with these kind of on the side ventures, it can affect the type of coverage a team gets and the volume of coverage they get.

And so lets say you have something like spygate. You might expect to see NE get lighter treatment than they already have because, now theyre being critical of a business partner.

oubronco
09-24-2009, 12:29 PM
Whats new they have been huggin the Pats nuts for years

TonyR
09-24-2009, 12:31 PM
Its a conflict because, like was said, these guys are national outlets and are supposed to provide coverage that is free from bias. Now with these kind of on the side ventures, it can affect the type of coverage a team gets and the volume of coverage they get.


Right. So, at least theoretically, the "favored" teams might get more and better coverage. Competitively this isn't "fair". Like I said before, this is to be expected in local and regional coverage but it shouldn't be the case in national coverage. We know that biases exist but these business interests make it blatant.

DeuceOfClub
09-24-2009, 12:33 PM
It could have a been a big deal if ESPN were even pretending to be objective.

Beantown Bronco
09-24-2009, 12:35 PM
It could have a been a big deal if ESPN were even pretending to be objective.

bingo

All this is is back pay for services rendered. Are we really arguing about them becoming biased when everyone already believes they already were before this deal?

TonyR
09-24-2009, 12:36 PM
It could have a been a big deal if ESPN were even pretending to be objective.

They are pretending to be objective.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?columnist=ohlmeyer_don&id=4405442

lex
09-24-2009, 12:37 PM
Right. So, at least theoretically, the "favored" teams might get more and better coverage. Competitively this isn't "fair". Like I said before, this is to be expected in local and regional coverage but it shouldn't be the case in national coverage. We know that biases exist but these business interests make it blatant.

Theres a financial dimension to all of this. A discerning adult might better scrutinize what is going on when the Patriots get kid glove treatment or amplified exposure but a kid might not. Kids buy merchandise and have parents who buy merchandise. The reason Pittsburgh has a huge national following is because a huge amount of Gen Xers grew up when the Steelers were a dominant team in the 70s. There is a tainted aspect to this that extends beyond the here and now.

The Cowboys and Dolphins also have large followings that go back to the 70s.

Garcia Bronco
09-24-2009, 02:20 PM
Espn is not an objective news source. It has little journalistic value. It is much like wrasllin. It's entertainment.

Rock Chalk
09-24-2009, 02:59 PM
Why is this bias?

ESPNBoston.com is marketed towards Boston sports and folks who are fans of Boston sports.

The questions is, why do you people who are Bronco fans, give a ****?

DenverBrit
09-24-2009, 03:44 PM
Why is this bias?

ESPNBoston.com is marketed towards Boston sports and folks who are fans of Boston sports.

The questions is, why do you people who are Bronco fans, give a ****?

Agreed.

It's already 'biased' by being ESPNBoston, so it doesn't matter who has an ownership interest, it's going to be New England-centric regardless.

listopencil
09-24-2009, 05:17 PM
EntertainmentSPortsNetwork

broncosteven
09-24-2009, 06:29 PM
I thought they, ESPN, was starting up an ESPNinsertlocalmarketnamehere.com site for all, or at least the bigger sport markets to lure the local fans to their network.

I don't see the conflict but I don't try to understand law, that is why I pay a lawyer 30%.

watermock
09-24-2009, 06:44 PM
Ever since ABC/Disney bought them it's been downhill.

TonyR
09-24-2009, 08:14 PM
ESPN responds to questions regarding Kraft relationship
Posted by Mike Florio on September 24, 2009 9:13 PM ET

After posting our take regarding the SportsBusiness Daily report regarding the decision of ESPN to hire the Kraft Sports Group to sell advertising for Bristol's new Beantown-centric ESPNBoston.com, we posed a few questions via e-mail to ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer.

Bill responded this morning, but I haven't had time to post a followup.

Though I don't really have time to do it now, either, I don't want anyone to think I'm dragging my feet regarding the publication of information that I expressly solicited from ESPN.

"This will have no impact on ESPN's editorial coverage," Hofheimer said. "Kraft Sports Group is simply the local ad sales and sponsorship agent for ESPNBoston.com. We did not have a sales force in Boston and this was a solution for that. ESPN will maintain full, independent editorial control. We have a history of separating business relationships from our news and information division, and this will continue to be the case. We provide coverage -- sometimes critical -- of leagues, teams, players and others with whom we may have business relationships."

That's all fine. And it sounds good in writing. But it doesn't change the fact that, at a minimum, there's a reason to question the objectivity of ESPN regarding anything written or said about the Patriots.

Surely, we and others will be watching. So is it really worth it, then, to undermine the credibility of the coverage of one of the primary teams that ESPNBoston.com will be covering, all in the name of not hiring an in-house advertising sales staff?

And though ESPN can claim that there will be no change to its editorial approach, we have a feeling that Mike Fish's February 2008 reporting regarding the Matt Walsh situation might have been couched a bit differently if Kraft Sports Group were selling ads for ESPNBoston.com at the time.

The current connection also doesn't hurt the ongoing effort to unruffle feathers of Pats fans who hold a grudge against the Boston Herald and ESPN for the perception that they created a huge distraction in the days preceding the Patriots' effort to complete what would have been the only 19-0 season in NFL history.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2009/09/24/espn-responds-to-questions-regarding-kraft-relationship/