The Pager Scores

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NEW YORK: Good news for those who just can't wait for up-to-the-minute sports scores: A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the NBA cannot prevent companies from transmitting real-time scores taken from television and radio broadcasts of games in progress. Previously, news outlets have honored NBA requests to provide live updates only three times each quarter and once during halftime and at the end of the game in order to protect the exclusive agreements the league had with TV and radio stations. Since no newscast ever found a need for continuous scores, the request was easily approved. But the exploding popularity of the Internet and wireless paging systems has created a market for constant updates and real-time scores. Earlier this year, Motorola started offering the SportsTrax service, providing real-time scores to subscribers over Motorola's pager network. The NBA immediately filed suit, and in July, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the NBA, saying that SportsTrax "crosses the boundary" of allowable media coverage of a sporting event. The court ordered the immediate suspension of transmissions. The decision provoked an outcry among advocates of press freedom, who said providing real-time scores was no different from listing box scores in newspapers or showing highlights of games in progress. The companies are expected to begin retransmitting the service shortly, just in time for the playoffs.