ESPN's Blackout Of Roethlisberger Story

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Protecting their broadcast partner. They should stop calling themselves a sports news organization.

The accusations of sexual assault contained in a civil lawsuit filed against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have been widely reported in the sports and entertainment news media — except by ESPN.

The sports-media giant’s single exemption from its reporting blackout has been to let its ESPN Radio station in Pittsburgh update the case in news reports. But the station’s talk-show hosts are prohibited from discussing it.

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The ban on reporting the lawsuit was issued on ESPN’s internal newswire and e-mail system at 10:48 p.m. Eastern Monday, after the news began to break. Doria said ESPN’s caution was to protect Roethlisberger from the fallout of potentially false allegations, not to shield its TV partner, the N.F.L.

Yeah, right. The NFL is worth billions to ESPN/ABC/Disney and Big Ben is a marquee name.