Watching the Buckeyes today? Maybe not

No Buckeye football today for Time Warner Cable subscribers NORWALK Looking for the Ohio State vs. Wisconsin game on y
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

No Buckeye football today for Time Warner Cable subscribers

NORWALK

Looking for the Ohio State vs. Wisconsin game on your cable box today?

You won't find it if you're aTime Warner Cable subscriber.

The Buckeye's showdown against the Badgers will only be broadcast on the new Big TenNetwork, which Time Warner doesn't carry.

Buckeye Cable subscribers can watch the game at noon.

Time Warner has beenhaggling with the Big Ten Network since February about how much it should pay to broadcast thenetwork.

Spokesmen from both companies said Friday that an agreement will not be reached anytime soon.

"I would say fans (will)continue to be missing their games for quite some time," Big Ten Network spokesman Mike Vest said.

While the companies dig in their heels, Time Warner's Buckeye fans have now been forced to miss four Ohio State football games.

State legislator sponsors cable resolution bill

State Rep. Lou Blessing, R-Colerain Twp., is fed up with missing football games because of cable company disputes.

On Thursday he sponsored a bill that would force Time Warner and the Big Ten to negotiate an agreement through anindependent arbitrator.

The bill would also force the NFL Network, which broadcasts Bengals games, to reach an agreement with Ohio cable providers.

"I've received complaints from some of my constituents about paying for stadiums and cable and not being able to watch football," Blessing said. "This isn't about the companies. It's about fans being able to watch games they've already paid for."

The Big Ten Network declined to comment, but Time Warner said it doesn't approve ofBlessing's interference.

"The First Amendment protects all companies, just like all individuals, to not force us to put programming on we do not choose to put on," said Chris Thomas, spokesman for Time Warner.

Blessing, a Time Warner Cable subscriber living near Cincinnati, said he will probably watch Saturday's Buckeye game from a local sports bar.

"This situation really helps the BW-3s (and) sport's bars of the world," he said.

Why they're fighting (SUBHEAD)

The Big Ten Network and Time Warner blame each other for local fans being forced to miss football games.

Time Warner says many Midwest subscribers don't watch Big Ten sports, but all of them would have to pay more for cable if the Big Ten got its way.

The Big Ten wants revenue totaling about 10 cents per customer outside of Big Ten states.

In Ohio, it's about $1.10 per customer, according to Time Warner, but the Big Ten refutes that figure.

"When we asked (subscribers) if they would pay an additional $13 a year to watch Penn State vs. Notre Dame... most people said they would not be willing to pay that," Thomas said.

The Big Ten said its rate structures are for cable companies, not consumers.

"Whether or not cable companies chose to pass (costs) on is up to them," Vest said.

He said the bigger issue is Time Warner doesn't want to put the network on its expanded cable package, meaning people paying for expanded cable would still have to pay extra to subscribe to the Big Ten Network.

"Fans shouldn't have to pay extra to see the Buckeyes," Vest said. "Once we can agree that this kind of programming belongs on expanded basic, we'll negotiate everything else, including price."

There is another problem (SUBHEAD)

The Big Ten is the first college conference to launch its own cable network, but others are sure to follow.

The precedent Time Warner sets with the Big Ten will influence negotiations with other conferences.

"Certainly across the country, the Pac-10 and so forth would all be looking to do the same thing," Thomas said. "There is no end to what would happen to both the sports availability and cable prices should every conference or league have their own network."

As of September, 550 people called Time Warner in reference to the Big Ten Network and 13 people canceled their service.

The Big Ten Network will broadcast at least 15 Ohio State basketball games next year, which will be unavailable to Time Warner subscribers if the companies cannot reach a deal.

Pullout 1:

Time Warner Cable subscribers in the local area by county:

Ottawa County: 10,806

Erie County: 11,071

Huron County: 9,465

Time Warner Cable has subscribers in the following areas:

Willard, Bellevue, Norwalk, Sandusky, Port Clinton, Put-in-Bay, Vermilion and New London