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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Basketball Talk

Every year as the leaves jump from on high to the ground, thoughts around here turn to University of Kentucky men’s basketball, and this year is certainly no exception. We are thrilled to have some better news to report on the availability of some UK and U of L sports events this year due to our new agreement with ESPN relative to their internet sports site, ESPN 3. We are also finding that many of the UK men’s basketball games that normally are unavailable to us can be found on tape delay and, sometimes even live, if we are diligent in doing our research (and we are being very diligent!) But, still, there will be a few games that we will lack access to again this year.

Let’s take our annual look at this situation and review how we came to be in this position. First of all, in the very beginning, the University of Kentucky was born as a function of the Morrill Land-Grant Act. This act caused federal land to be granted to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and that land was eventually sold to provide the initial funding for the university. Since then, the people of the Commonwealth have repeatedly stepped up to fund this asset which is owned by the people of Kentucky. The school, its buildings, its brand, its sports teams, and all other assets are owned by we the taxpayer/citizens.

Of course, we all know that many Kentuckians, including a lot of folks in Glasgow, are more concerned with the exploits of UK’s sports teams than the important research taking place in the UK College of Agriculture. In pursuit of success in those sports programs, University of Kentucky has undertaken many expensive projects which must be financed somehow. Our problems come as a result of many years of relentless pursuit of sports excellence and the money required to finance those programs. In particular, we have a problem with the way the UK Athletics Department has been willing to enter into agreements to sell the television rights to this programming to companies that, in turn, demand ridiculous fees and outlandish profits for the rights to view the games they purchase right here in Kentucky.

Remember, at the beginning and end of the day, the sports teams belong to the people of Kentucky. The buildings they practice and play in belong to the people of Kentucky. The faculty and staff that deliver the education of those sports stars is paid for by the people of Kentucky. As a result of these simple facts, we have developed a simple belief – we think that the people of Kentucky should get a special Most Favored Nations rate for access to the games played by our teams. In short, since we are paying for all of the facilities while folks in other states watching these games are generally NOT paying for UK’s buildings and faculty, we think it is fine for them to pay whatever the programming company wants to charge them for the games, but we think we citizens of Kentucky should get them for the price of the taxes we have already submitted!

This seems like a simple matter and a fair solution, right? Well, as yet, no Kentucky legislator has been willing to suggest this solution in the form of a bill. As a result, small cable operators like Glasgow EPB, even though well within the boundary of Kentucky and made up of folks who have already paid for these teams once, are asked to pay about $100,000 per year for the games on Fox Sports South and other newly minted UK basketball game owners. We cannot add these services as premium channels so that only those willing to pay the price get them. No, the aggressive demands of the likes of Fox Sports South mean that we would have to provide the service to all of our customers, and pay for each of those customers, or not distribute the programming at all. So, even though many would gladly pay their portion of this ransom, our customers have repeatedly told us that we should stick by our guns and refuse to pay this rate because it is blatantly unfair and unjust. Just like the movement that is now sweeping into our federal government, it is time to say no to those who think we are a soft touch and unable to stand up to their demands. This determination to do what is right is the reason why a very few of the UK men’s basketball games will not be available on our cable system again this year.

Remember, most games will be available to our customers via cable or the ESPN 3 site. We urge you to become familiar with the link at the middle of the www.glasgow-ky.com home page called “What’s On EPB Cable?” where you can find special information about local programming and the highly desirable UK and U of L sports programming. Click on that link to see where you can find the games you want to see (and lots of very good local events programming on Cable6 as well as our suggestions for other programming you do not want to miss). As always, please call us with any questions you have about these issues.

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