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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.

Pizza’s Deliveries: Making a molehill out of a mtn.

By Tony Pizza

I can’t predict how many fans of teams in the Mountain West Conference wish they were flies on the wall when the MWC tied the knot with the mtn. television network, but I don’t think I’d be going out on a limb if I said, “A lot.”

At this point, it’s not even clear if the people present in that conference room know what prompted the move. What is clear is that fans are getting hosed.

The problem is, the only complexion that is bound to change with all this hooting and hollering is the shade of red on our screaming faces.

Getting into bed with the mtn. network has made the situation almost as awkward as the atmosphere at the White House when Monica Lewinski showed up with a stained dress.

The MWC has hired a lawyer to examine its contract terms with the mtn,, but if Kelly Crabb can’t come up with an amicable solution to the television distribution problem in the Western U.S., fans can expect a long, frustrating road ahead when it comes to watching their favorite MWC teams play on TV.

Right now, the only solution for fans is an exodus to the limited selection they have in digital television companies that offer the mtn.–namely, Comcast.

Fans can scream till their heads fall off, and companies like Dish Network and DirecTV won’t lend two seconds of their attention to customer requests because, frankly, markets within the MWC matter about as much as states such as Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado and Nevada matter in a presidential election.

It would be nice to include San Diego’s voice in the big scheme of things–it is the largest metropolis area housing a school within the MWC–but anyone who has lived in San Diego knows the locals care about Aztec athletics about as much as Rosie O’Donnell worries about being perceived as annoying to the general public.

Right now, if DirecTV or Dish Network felt obliged to pick up the mtn., they’d end up forking out a ton of money to pick up the floundering station, then they’d turn around and sell the mtn. to customers for $30.

The fact of the matter is people living east of the Rocky Mountains have no desire to see the MWC in action. Aside from football and men’s basketball, fans within the conference aren’t much better. Not even the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-10 or Big East have attempted to put out a television network solely dedicated to its conference, and for good reason.

This television network is bound to fail, and now the public discontent shared by the conference has almost certainly doomed the mtn. to failure.

Major digital television companies such as DirecTV and Dish Network can afford to stand pat because nobody is leaving their respective companies for companies offering the mtn. If it were a financially sound decision to include the mtn., make no mistake about it, these companies would be on that deal faster than a Trekkie would eat up a William Shatner book signing.

But before you decide that signing up for a mtn.-carrying company (read: Comcast) is the only solution, know this: Being a monopoly in America has never been a bad thing–at least, not for business. If a company such as Comcast continues to dominate the rights to the only station that broadcasts BYU and Utah football games, for instance, they would gain total control of the MWC market.

The cable company could hike up prices without even flinching at a consumer backlash. Comcast could get away with focusing less–or not at all–on customer service, because who else are people going to go to?

Presently, digital television companies without the mtn. have no reason to change, and companies with the mtn. have no reason to complain. In the end the MWC is in a no-win situation, and the fans will be left wondering why anyone tried to change a good thing.

And for all of those singing the mtn. network’s praises about how it fixed the football schedule–which was one justification for the switch–the question is: Has it?

In 2005, seven MWC college football games were played on a day other than Saturday, the traditional day for college football. In 2007, 10 MWC games will be played on days other than Saturday. How exactly is the mtn. making the college football schedule better?

One thing is for sure: The MWC had a good thing going when it knew a national audience was watching its football games at least once in a while.

Now, each school’s own fans can’t even watch.

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