Thursday, August 23, 2007

Just what the BTN dispute needs: intervention by the Indiana General Assembly.

Representative David Crooks of Washington, Indiana, perhaps best known for attempting to keep Indiana in the 19th century and off Daylight Saving Time, has asked something called the "Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor" to get involved in the Big Ten Network negotiations.
Crooks said Macey recommended that mediators be hired in the dispute, but he doesn't believe that's adequate. He thinks legislators will get many impassioned calls from constituents once constituents find out that they might have to pay extra to watch IU and Purdue sports.
With all due respect to the honorable legislator, where has he been? Perhaps this anti-DST crusader has no technology more advanced than a windmill or sundial at his home.* Big Ten games, including those involving IU and Purdue, have been broadcast on ESPN and its related networks for, what, 20 years? At least in football, the games that will be broadcast on the BTN are the sort of games that wouldn't have been on TV at all until "Creative Sports," the predecessor to ESPN Regional/ESPN plus, began syndicating Big Ten football games in the mid 1990s. Since it was my sophomore year of college, I like to believe that 1993 wasn't that long ago. On November 6, 1993, IU, 7-1 and with some far-fetched but mathematically feasible Rose Bowl hopes, lost 38-31 to 5-2 Penn State in the Hoosiers' first-ever trip to State College. The game was not televised in Central Indiana. I listened to the game on the radio and watched the frequent highlights during updates on ESPN.
In basketball, of course, Hoosiers have long been accustomed to syndicated broadcasts of nearly all IU and Purdue games for decades, but for at least the last decade, ESPN and ESPN2 have broadcast many significant basketball games, games that Indiana residents without cable could not watch. Fortunately, Rep. Crooks's ability to meddle is limited because the General Assembly is not in session and will not be for some months, but I can't imagine anything good will come of this. The state can't compel the Big Ten and the major cable providers to make a deal. They can't do anything about the existence of the BTN. I'm no free market absolutist, but the vast majority of Hoosiers who care sufficiently about the games offered in the Big Ten Network could switch to DirecTV or AT&T U-Verse. Don't get me wrong. I love the current saturation TV coverage and hope that the BTN and cable providers come to their senses. But it's been at least 20 years since IU and Purdue fans could watch every single basketball game over the air, and it's never been the case for football. This situation does not cry out for government intervention.
But hey, Dave, no hard feelings, and put in a good word with Tyler Zeller, please.
*This is a little unfair. Crooks's district is in southwestern Indiana, near the line between the Eastern and Central time zones. His main desire is not necessarily to make us Hoosiers look like a bunch of luddites, but to drag all of Indiana into the Central Time Zone so that his constituents don't have to commute across a time zone line. As a desk jockey, I love me some 10 p.m. summer sunsets, and most particularly, usable after-work daylight in October. Returning to the old summer status quo with the added joy of 4 p.m. winter sunsets is unacceptable, and therefore I reserve the right to mock and exaggerate Rep. Crooks's position.

1 comment:

Jason266 said...

The next thing to come, I believe, is the argument that IU and Purdue are state funded schools that are subject to the state's freedom of information laws. And with basketball and football games being university "meetings", the public has the right to access these "meetings".

As someone who has DirecTV, this whole thing is a non-issue for me. I do, however, find it entertaining.