Thursday, November 15, 2007

Big Ten Network - Politicians Getting Involved

Here is a story from today in the Capital Times. The short version is that three state representatives are asking for an audit of the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics at UW Madison.
Specifically, the trio asked auditors to examine the division's revenues and expenditures as well as a request to "specifically enumerate the amount of revenue the division has or will receive from any agreements involving the broadcast of sporting events on the Big Ten Network."

So, the lawmakers want to know exactly how much money the UW is receiving from the BTN for the broadcast rights to the sporting events. I assume this means football and men's basketball, as those are the only two bigtime revenue sports. UW hockey has a giant following as well, but their hockey team competes in the WCHA, not the Big Ten. I don't see any issue with the lawmakers having access to those numbers. The University is state run, and owned by the state, if I am not mistaken.
The three lawmakers said that their request stemmed from constituents' complaints over not being able to watch the Nov. 3 UW-Ohio State football game.

Uh-oh. People are calling the politicians about missing the football game. Interesting. The BTN pleaded for people to call the cable networks, not politicians.
Travis said he approached the Educational Communications Board before the Ohio State game to see if Wisconsin Public Television could broadcast the game, but was told that the contract prohibited it.

Before the BTN came into existence, Wisconsin Public Television would televise the UW football games on tape delay, usually around 9 or 10 pm.
"How did Wisconsin get in the position that its public university can't televise its own games on public television?" Travis asked during an interview Thursday. "Everybody is lateraling the ball here" by shifting the blame for the agreement, he said. "Nobody is taking responsibility for it."

Well, the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the schools and the Big Ten conference. The fans, as usual, are the big losers. I would dearly love for the politicians to get access to those numbers - I don't see what the problem would be as it is a public institution, owned as much by me as the next Wisconsinite. This story is far from over and is getting more interesting by the minute.

Added: I have started a new category, Big Ten Netowork as I have written about it quite extensively, you can see the related articles now on the sidebar.


gerry from valpo said...

Politicians to the rescue. Too funny!

I can see it now. A TV news segment where a politician is banging his fist on the statehouse podium spewing that poor and working class Americans are being denied access to Big Ten Football. Women and minorities will be effected most!

Chicago politicians will eventually find a way to levy a tax on anyone who watches televised sports to help fund the CTA and the 2016 Olympics. Think I'm kidding?

State funded colleges and universities charge admission, so legislating free broadcast access to an entire game even on tape delay may be a reach.

But since colleges and universities are taxpayer funded, government officials have every right to investigate the BTN money grab.

Whatever the outcome it will definitely be interesting to see how this goes down.

Great post Dan!

I say politicians by 3.

Dan from Madison said...

Good comment Gerry. Vegas says politicians by 6 though. I think I would take university and the six points if I were a betting man.

I don't know why everyone is kidding themselves - they should make all football pay per view and get it over with. That seems to be what it is coming to anyway. And that is the day I quit watching games on TV - I have two lines in the sand as most people know - the PSL and pay per view.

As an interesting aside, I received an email from the NFL about the NFL Network - they are actually ENCOURAGING people to call politicians. We don't have that one either on our local cable, so people will be missing one Packer game this year.