SBJ/July 9 - 15, 2007/This Weeks News

ESPN defends Big Ten lineup

ESPN recently inserted itself into the carriage dispute the Big Ten Network is having with cable operators, sending a form letter about three weeks ago to hundreds of cable operators to “clear up any possible misconceptions” about the selection of Big Ten football games.

The letter, which was sent by David Preschlack, the newly promoted executive vice president of affiliate relations, takes exception with Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman’s statement in May, when he said, “Half the time, the Big Ten Network will get the second or third pick of the games.”

Preschlack responded: “The fact of the matter is our Big Ten agreement affords ABC/ESPN the right to telecast 41 of the first 47 football games selected each year beginning in 2007.”

When asked why Preschlack felt the need to send out such a statement, an ESPN spokesman said, “There were some reports that clouded the rights landscape, and we thought it would be appropriate to provide clarity about our position regarding selection of football games.”

The truth is, both Silverman and Preschlack are correct.

The Big Ten Network has the second choice of games three times (behind ABC) and third choice of games three times (behind ABC and ESPN).

That gives ABC/ESPN the right to telecast 41 of the first 47 Big Ten football games this fall.

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