Time Warner Cable extended an offer Friday to show Buckeye football games scheduled for broadcast on the Big Ten Network, but the Big Ten Network had harsh words for the proposal, calling it a "publicity stunt" that created confusion and false hope.
The offer to broadcast the games was extended in a letter from Time Warner to Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith.
The letter came a day after Smith sent a letter to Buckeye fans urging them to dump Time Warner for another cable or satellite provider. The university is unhappy with Time Warner's inability to strike a deal with the Big Ten Network to show Ohio State football games.
"Time Warner's decision not to carry the network is a huge disappointment," Smith wrote.
The Big Ten Network will carry at least two of the Buckeyes' first five games, including the season opener against Youngstown State on Aug. 30 and the Sept. 20 game against Troy. In addition, the network will broadcast one of Ohio State's Big Ten Conference games. That game has yet to be announced.
In a letter to Smith on Friday, Time Warner Cable Executive Vice President Terry O' Connell wrote that Time Warner would like nothing more than to ensure that all customers have access to each of Ohio State's football games.
O'Connell extended an offer that would show Ohio State football games carried on the Big Ten Network. As part of the deal, customers would be charged on a per-game basis, with all revenue from the games going to Ohio State.
"Time Warner Cable is committed to reaching a reasonable and fair deal," O'Connell wrote. "In addition, in the interest of all our customers, Buckeye fans and others alike, while we continue our negotiations, we are willing to offer the Ohio State football games carried on the Big Ten Network to our customers on a per-game basis, at a retail price set by you, with 100 percent of the revenue going to you. To ensure that our customers can see these games for the lowest possible price, we will not keep one penny of the revenue generated from the sale of these games."
O'Connell also wrote that Time Warner would supply a converter box with pay-per-view capability, free of charge, to any interested customer who does not have the necessary equipment.
"Now the decision is in Ohio State's hands," O'Connell wrote. "We look forward to your immediate response."
Smith responded to the letter on Friday afternoon, saying that he had forwarded the offer to Big Ten Network executives in Chicago.
A few hours later, the Big Ten Network released a statement in which it called Time Warner's offer a "publicity stunt."
"Time Warner is well aware that it cannot selectively choose to air a network's programming in lieu of full carriage," the statement read.
The network criticized Time Warner for not making Big Ten programming available to its customers.
"What proposals have recently been exchanged, there is a wide gap between what Time Warner and its competitors would seem to agree is reasonable and fair," the statement read.
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August 21, 2008:
Smith Urges Buckeye Fans To Dump Time Warner
August 13, 2008: Still No Deal To Carry Big Ten Network
August 13, 2008: Many Cable Customers May Miss Some Buckeye Games
August 8, 2008: Big Ten Network Likely To Air Buckeyes' Conference Opener