NASA and X Prize In Stalemate Over TV and Webcast

Editor's update: According to NASA sources, X Prize Cup has refused to allow NASA to webcast any of the event's activities. As a result of this refusal, NASA has now decided to not air any X Prize activity on NASA TV. X Prize officials called NASA on Wednesday of this week to inform them that they had signed a commerical partner for the webcast and that NASA was in no way allowed to put any of this material on its website.

You would think that these sort of issues would have been settled some time ago - not a day or so before the competition. This all goes back to the Space Act Agreement that was signed between NASA and the X Prize Foundation wherein NASA gave up complete media control to the X Prize Foundation. Apparently all parties within and outside of NASA were not on the same page as to what this really meant.

As it stands, the X Prize Cup now loses a substantial free global distribution of video coverage of the event - unless they can come to some agreement with NASA (not likely) - or buy satellite services - overnight. Meanwhile, television networks in Germany are angry since they had hoped to use the NASA TV feed to broadcast the event.

The way that the X Prize Cup folks wanted things to go was simply unworkable i.e. to expect NASA pay for satellite distribution - and give them visibility - yet not be able to air the exact same content (which exists because of NASA prize sponsorship in the first place) on the web where far more people (taxpayers) are likely to see it. As such, I somewhat reluctantly agree with NASA's decision not to air the X Prize Cup events on NASA TV - unless X Prize changes their mind and allows NASA to present everything online.

Alas, the next time NASA signs one of these agreements, someone needs to do a sanity check ahead of time - before they sign on the dotted line - and give up the right to control how the public gets to see how their tax money is being given away as a prize - as well as what corportate participants are expected to put into the relationship as well.

Corporate sponsors also need to get something from the product of their labors as well - otherwise NASA can forget about ever encouraging a meaningful commercialization of space-related activities.

Of course, the X Prize Foundation needs to try and coordinate things a little better with NASA in the future - and not drop word of exclusive media contracts on the agency at the last minute.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on October 20, 2006 11:05 AM.

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