Programming

Fox Offers Olive Branch in Big Ten Spat with Mediacom

8/31/2007 02:54:00 PM Eastern

Fox is looking to bury the hatchet with Mediacom after a spat over Iowa State’s football opener Thursday night, and return to negotiations for distributing the Big Ten Network (BTN). 

Fox National Cable Sports Networks says it misunderstood Mediacom’s request for the rights to air Big 12 team Iowa State’s season opener against Kent State Thursday night. 

“We believed Mediacom was seeking free rights to the Iowa State – Kent State game for its exclusive distribution,” Fox said in an e-mailed statement. “Mediacom has assured us that was not its intent, and so we regret any misimpression that may have resulted from our subsequent statements.”
(Kent State defeated Iowa State 23-14.) 

On Thursday, Mediacom issued a press release stating that Fox denied its request to televise the game because the cable company had not agreed to launch BTN, a joint venture between Fox Cable Networks and the Big Ten Conference, on its cable systems. 

Fox fired back a statement Thursday evening, claiming Mediacom sought “the right to be the exclusive distributor of the game at the expense of every other broadcast, cable and satellite provider in Iowa.” 

That was not the case, according to Mediacom’s Vice President of Legal Affairs Tom Larson, who says Mediacom had offered to buy the rights to the game and produce it for its Iowa-sports focused Mediacom Connections Channel.  

“We were told we could have the Iowa State game if we launched the Big Ten Network,” Larson says. 

Mediacom has been in negotiations with BTN but balked at the network’s demands of carriage on a basic tier and its high fees. BTN has said it is a willing negotiator on fees in its dealings with the cable operators, but stands strong on its demand for carriage on basic tiers. 

It appeared Friday that Fox looked to sooth tempers at Mediacom. 

“Fox enjoys a long-standing relationship with Mediacom Communications, which has partnered with us on many of our individual networks,” the network group said in Friday’s statement. “We respect that relationship and would rather not diminish it through any contention over carriage rights to an individual game.”

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