Mike Violette, right, talks during a Dec. 6 live broadcast of the Cony at Lawrence boys basketball game on radio station WSKW Legacy 1160. During his morning radio show on Dec. 10, 2019, Violette said that he opposed the proposed live broadcasting rules for Cony High games. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

A controversial proposal to restrict how broadcast media covers Cony High School sports and other Augusta Schools activities, previously rejected by the school board, is back after undergoing a few changes.

The changes significantly reduce the fees proposed to be charged to radio, television and internet broadcast entities to broadcast Cony sports. The newly revised proposal, however, still would restrict how broadcasters can cover Cony home games and control the content of advertisements played during those broadcasts.

When board members considered the first version of the proposal in December 2019, they voted unanimously to reject it and send it back to the Policy Committee, with orders it be revised with input from members of the broadcast media. Broadcasters said then they would stop covering Cony sports if the policy was enacted.

One of their major concerns then was about the proposed fee to broadcast school events such as Cony sports. The proposal called for $50 for each regular season game and $100 for each playoff game.

The newly proposed fee now is  an annual processing fee of $25 which would cover events for a school year.

However restrictions on broadcasters still include a requirement for “objective announcing” and a ban on inappropriate criticism of officials, coaches, teams, players, schools or other entities.

It provides examples of inappropriate criticism: “This official clearly has no clue what he’s doing. Coach Smith should be fired. Joe Smith should not be starting.”

And appropriate criticism: “We are unsure as to what drew the penalty. We will search for further clarification. Coach Smith made a mistake that now has his team down late in this game. Joe Smith is really struggling at the moment. We’ll see if he can bounce back.”

Mike Violette of Mix Maine Media, who hosts a morning show and broadcasts high school sporting events for radio station Legacy 1160 WSKW, spoke against the policy during the December 2019 meeting when the board initially rejected it.

“As it stands if this policy is passed, we will not broadcast your (home) games, and nobody else will, either,” Violette told board members before their vote. “I felt after I read your policy I might have to have an attorney come to the game and sit next to me. You literally discussed, in the policy, what we can and can’t say on the air.”

And while representatives of Munzing Media, which streams many local high school sporting events, did not attend that meeting, the business’s Facebook page stated it was “doubtful we will stream any Cony games in the future” if the policy was approved.

Working high above center court, the Munzing Media team covers an Eastern Class A tournament game between Skowhegan and Bangor on Feb. 15, 2013, at the Augusta Civic Center. Kennebec Journal file photo by Joe Phelan

The policy would require outlets to submit the names of all sponsors and allow the school department to review all advertisers and advertisements to be run during the broadcast, and ban any advertisements for alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, firearms, bars and taverns, exotic dance clubs or political issues.

Exceptions to those banned advertisements included ads for combination businesses, such as grocery stores and restaurants, which sell alcoholic beverages, tobacco or firearms as well as other items, as long as no part of the ads mention those banned products.

Kim Silsby, principal of Cony, said the intention of the policy was to support and protect Augusta’s students by addressing a number of issues.

The proposal was modeled on policies local school officials found in Florida, because they could not find any other Maine schools with such policies.

Board members will meet to consider the revised policy — as well as an application form and administrative procedures related to that policy — at their 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday, which will take place via the video conferencing system Zoom. Public input may be made via the chat feature via livestream.

Board members are also scheduled to:

• consider approving a new, three-year contract with First Student, the only firm to submit a bid, to continue providing bus service to the city’s schools.

• consider other new or revised policies including policies on adult and community education; support staff contracts and compensation plans; standing committee operating procedures; bloodborne pathogens exposure; hazard mitigation; non-represented support staff supplementary plans; hazing; support staff fringe benefits, leaves, absences, schedules, and sick and personal leave; and staff vacations and holidays.

• consider opting out of the Child and Adult Care Food Program, a state after school meals program for at-risk students.

• consider confirming the nomination of Christie Jernigan, an assistant principal at Dresden Elementary School, as an assistant principal at Cony, and

• meet in executive session to discuss a personnel issue.

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