ECU News, Notes and Commentary
Thursday, August 18, 2005
By Bethany Bradsher
TV prospects mired in
fans will have every right to be frustrated if they don’t get to watch any
East Carolina games on television this fall. The tricky part in that
scenario will be figuring out who to blame.
all five parties involved in the negotiations for ECU road game broadcasts
are still actively working toward a deal, and ECU director of electronic
media Jeff Charles is still optimistic that the Pirate Sports Network will
be able to meet its goal of showing four games on WITN-TV 7 this season.
fans need to know is, we still want to provide this four-game package,”
Charles said. “We want very badly to do that.”
problem is, the matter of TV rights has become considerably more complicated
with the College Sports Television Network's arrival on the scene. In
January, ECU announced a six-year agreement between the fledgling college
sports channel and Conference USA that includes the rights to everything
from television to
Internet streaming, radio and wireless
distribution and corporate marketing rights.
“Internally, ECU has always been able to make these decisions, but now it
has to go through CSTV,” Charles said.
still the big player, with the rights to pick up any games it wants to
broadcast from the C-USA schedule, Charles said, but the broadcasts of all
of the remaining games then belong to CSTV.
12 C-USA contests — two involving ECU — are on the CSTV fall schedule. That
slate comprises 14 percent of the 84 games in which one or both sides are
season opener, on Sept. 3 against Duke, will be CSTV’s inaugural college
contest, set to air at 1 p.m. that Saturday. The new network raised the ire
of some ECU fans right out of the chute when it changed the kickoff from the
evening to the scorching heat of the afternoon to accommodate its broadcast
Then a few
weeks ago, the station decided to show ECU’s Oct. 22 match up at Memphis. If
the Pirates should undergo an astonishing rebirth and make the first C-USA
championship game on December 3, that game will be aired on ESPN.
addition to the complications involving CSTV and ESPN, Cox Communications is
throwing the telecasts of the Duke and Memphis into doubt, at least in the
Greenville area. The cable network, which serves most of Pitt County, is
still in negotiations with CSTV and is making no promises about adding the
station to its system, said Cox vice president and general manager Phil
as we make a decision we will let our customers know,” Ahlschlager said. “We
have to make a decision on whether that has value for us as a company.”
Ahlschlager hasn’t heard much about how many other major cable companies
have included CSTV in their lineups, but one major North Carolina provider,
Time Warner Cable, makes no mention of CSTV on its website.
CSTV site, would-be viewers are urged to e-mail their cable companies with
requests to include the network, but Ahlschlager said that such missives
from Greenville customers have been less than overwhelming. CSTV's website
also includes a petition intended to be used to convince cable providers of
the network's desirability to viewers. The goal for the petition, the site
says, is 100,000 signatures, and 97,677 have signed it so far.
satellite dish networks, Direct TV is offering CSTV, but only as part of its
Total Choice Premier package, which costs $93.99 a month. Dish Network
doesn’t yet include the station, according to the CSTV website, but an
e-mail link is included for the lobbying purpose of its customers.
a dynamic vision and an excellent management team," C-USA Commissioner
Britton Banowsky said at the January press conference announcing the
partnership. “The potential of this partnership is staggering. CSTV will be
a major player in this industry, there is no doubt about that."
certainly too early to assess the accuracy of Banowsky’s forecast. But
forgive Pirate fans if they are a little myopic right now, just 17 days
before the kickoff of Skip Holtz’s regime. They are not pondering the
long-term solvency of CSTV’s stock. They just want to know if they’ll have
the chance to watch the Pirates from their recliner, especially when
distance prohibits them from being there in person.
objective of the television package in the past has been to show four road
games, Charles said, but occasionally when those could not be scheduled one
home game has been aired to retain the four-game package for advertisers. So
the ideal outcome of his daily negotiations would be telecasts of four of
the following five games: Wake Forest, West Virginia, Southern Methodist,
Tulsa and Marshall.
juggles the demands of the new network, the conference, the local station
and his own university, Charles is still optimistic that he will be announce
an agreement soon.
blocks away, it’s tougher to say which way things are leaning with Cox
Communications. Even if Cox decides to take on CSTV, Ahlschlager said, the
company typically has a policy requiring notification to customers of new
offerings 30 days in advance.
this case, Ahlschlager said, perhaps something extremely rare could occur in
this convoluted television scenario — a concession made for the fans.
situation of great urgency, clearly no one is going to challenge the 30-day
rule,” Ahlschlager said.
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