ESPN has abruptly ended its association with the public television series "Frontline" on a documentary detailing the controversial issue of concussions in NFL, citing a lack of editorial control over the project.
According to The New York Times,
the popular sports network had been at work on the documentary project, which is scheduled to air in October, for 15 months. The close collaboration had already produced nine joint reports dealing with the issue that appeared on both ESPN and "Frontline."
Chris LaPlaca, an ESPN spokesman, told the Times, “In hindsight, we should have reached this conclusion much sooner.” LaPlaca also told the newspaper the decision had nothing to do with the networks contractual relationship with the NFL.
The decision to remove ESPN's logo and name from the documentary titled, “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” apparently took "Frontline" executives by surprise.
Deputy Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath, told the Times that ESPN understood the ground rules of the collaboration, which called for “Frontline” having editorial control over what it reported on the project and ESPN having control over what it aired or posted on the Web.
“We were about to share a cut of our film with them,” Aronson-Rath told the newspaper, “and we welcomed their input.”
But in a statement, ESPN continued to express concerns about editorial control, and in particular, about its branding appearing on what "Frontline" chose to air.
“Because ESPN is neither producing nor exercising editorial control over the ‘Frontline’ documentaries, there will be no co-branding involving ESPN on the documentaries or their marketing materials," the statement said. "The use of ESPN’s marks could incorrectly imply that we have editorial control.”
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