Racing media push back after CHRB staff ask them for license – Horse Racing News


Mark Casse talks to the media at Santa Anita

The California Horse Racing Board announced a new policy Aug. 8 that would require members of the media to obtain and pay for a license through the state regulator in order to access the stable area of ​​the tracks Californians. The new policy, which was not voted on by the commission but was instead a staff decision, would make California the only state requiring members of the press to hold licenses issued by the state regulator. that they could cover.

Typically, active media members ask racetracks for credentials to access the backstretch and media workspace in the facility. The media member’s employer may be asked to verify that the journalist is on assignment and needs the requested access, but accreditation is usually a private property access decision. For countless in the automotive press, that could still be the process, according to the CHRB announcement.

“This practice will continue for those who rarely need access to stable areas. But those with a more regular presence in stable areas will need to acquire a CHRB “Z” (Other) license from one of the CHRB licensing offices,” the announcement read. “The fee for a Z license is $75 and, depending on the date of birth of the applicant, the license is valid for two to three years. All applicants must have their fingerprints and are checked for criminal background in California and nationally. Individuals have until August 31 to comply.

Nowhere did the announcement define “infrequent” or “regular” access, leaving out-of-state reporters who cover certain major competitions or events in California confused about their requirements.

Many in the horse press worry that if California’s policy continues, it will become the norm in all racing states, leading to restricted access and skyrocketing expenses for the few outlets that still cover horse racing.

Although most people licensed by a state racing commission are also required to register with the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus said Aug. 9 that she does not plan to let it be a requirement for the media.

“I don’t think we would need the media to register because being licensed by a state racing commission is just part of the test,” Lazarus said via email. “The second is whether or not the person interacts directly with the horses.”

When asked what prompted the change in policy, CHRB spokesperson Mike Marten said it stemmed from confusion around a former exercise worker who went to work for XBTV , which belongs to the Stronach group.

“A former rider who now works for a racing network attempted to have her license renewed but someone pointed out that she was not eligible for the license as she had not trained horses in years “, Marten said by e-mail. “This prompted licensing staff to ask which category she should be licensed under. I believe she ended up getting licensed as a track employee due to her association with track-owned racing network XBTV. But his employer was curious about the term Media License that was mentioned during the discussion. Of course, there is no Media License category, but as mentioned, his employer then sought clarification from the CHRB. The case came to Executive Director Scott Chaney and Chief Enforcement and Licensing Officer Shawn Loehr. They acknowledged that CHRB Rule 1481 was not enforced with respect to the news media.

CHRB Rule 1481 states that “A person acting in any capacity within the restricted area of ​​an enclosure, simulcast facility or ancillary parking area shall obtain the appropriate license(s) and pay the required fees”. However, California Code of Regulations 2022 Section 4, which lists licensing costs for various positions on the backstretch (coach, assistant, practice rider, etc.) makes no mention of a media license.

Predictably, journalists who might be affected by the policy change immediately expressed their displeasure with the announcement. The National Association of Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) and the Associated Press Sports Editors sent letters to CHRB Executive Director Scott Chaney denouncing the policy. These letters are printed in full below. (Editor’s note: The author is a board member of NTWAB.)

Letter from NTWAB:

Mr. Scott Chaney,

The National Turf Writers And Broadcasters vehemently opposes the California Horse Racing Board’s August 8, 2022 decision to “require that all persons entering stables, including members of the media, obtain a CHRB license.”

Professional members of the news media do not fall under the California Code of Regulations 2022 Rules and Regulations Title 4, Division 4, Article 4 (Occupational Licenses), Rule 1481. Members of the news media act independently and do not participate not to the operation of a racetrack and/or the care of racehorses.

Members of the news media, for decades, have gained access to racetracks across the country through Publicity Services and the Turf Publicists of America to conduct business without a license and/or being required to pay a fee to do their job. The CHRB’s requirement for members of the news media to purchase a license sets an unnecessary and bad precedent for the racing industry in addition to the First Amendment implications of government licensing of the free press. If members of the media were to be licensed, the same logic could be twisted to say that the CHRB could then also discipline members of the media.

The NTWAB Board and its members strongly encourage the CHRB to reverse this decision and allow the media to continue to operate independently and after approval from racetrack management.


tom’s law

President, National Turfwriters and Broadcasters

Letter from the Associated Press sports editors:

First, let’s introduce ourselves, we represent the Associated Press Sports Editors. Jorge is the president. Gerry and John, whom you know well, are co-chairs of the legal affairs committee. APSE is a national group that represents nearly all print and online media in the country as well as some broadcasters such as ESPN. We are considered the leading voice of sports media in the United States

It has come to our attention that the California Horse Racing Board has just issued a guideline that media wishing to regularly cover the straight of your tracks in California, including Santa Anita, Del Mar, Los Alamitos and Golden Gate Fields, should obtain a license from the CHRB, which includes fingerprinting and a background check.

In short, in the strongest possible terms, we oppose it in that it allows you to control the coverage and charges us for the “privilege”. Nowhere in the directive is it even explained what offenses could prevent someone from getting a license or if it is just a staff member’s whim. We understand that this decision was made without consulting any media groups for comment.

We’ve had similar attempts for background check requirements from everyone from the NFL to the NBA to NASCAR to the United States Olympic Committee. Either way, we prevailed. It is up to us to determine the quality and honesty of our employees, not you. If it is a fact that too many media credentials are being issued by the leads, it is a matter between you and the leads without punishing the legitimate media. If there have been any issues with legitimate media, please share. We care more than you think.

No league or sports group has ever gone to extremes in requiring fingerprinting.

We know you might say there is an option for local tracks to offer day passes. So what happens, as is often the case, if you talk to a trainer at Clockers’ Corner and follow them to their barn, only to be pulled over by security because Mike Willman n ‘didn’t say it was OK because he didn’t’ ‘You don’t know about the impromptu interview?

Under this rule, we can’t interview George Papaprodromou, a real feel-good story worth telling, in his barn about meeting Del Mar without someone’s permission?

And then there is the matter of the Breeders’ Cup. Santa Anita is hosting next year and by your rules it creates media chaos for those who want to interview on the straight. John contacted Jim Gluckson of the Breeders’ Cup about this. He said he was investigating. Could this have an impact on future Breeders’ Cups in California?

It’s a very strange position when horse racing is a sport that wants more coverage, but this rule only discourages it. The CHRB has been a leader in keeping horse racing safe and making it a better sport. This is what makes this position so disconcerting.

We’re sure this rule was well-intentioned, but sometimes even the most well-thought-out plans have unintended consequences. We sincerely believe and hope that this is the case.

We therefore respectfully request that this directive be rescinded. It has not yet become a national problem of over-regulation and that is how we would prefer it to be. Our preference is always to tackle a problem before it explodes, allowing everyone to find a graceful and quiet solution.

Please consider our request. We are always available to talk about it.

Best regards,

Jorge Rojas

President, APSE

Gerry Ahern

Co-Chairman of the APSE Legal Affairs Commission

John Cherwa

Co-Chairman of the APSE Legal Affairs Commission

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