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No Big Ten Network yet for Charter customers

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Associated Press and Gazette staff
August 26, 2008

News that Time Warner Cable has reached an agreement with the Big Ten Network is cause for optimism for customers of Charter Communications, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a deal is forthcoming for Charter, a spokesman said this morning.


Time Warner and the Big Ten Network have reached an agreement that will allow the cable company to air games starting this weekend, including the Badgers’ home opener, the companies announced late Monday.


“I certainly think that it’s cause for optimism, and we’ve been somewhat optimistic thus far,” said John Miller, Charter director of communications. “We’re optimistic that an agreement could possibly be achieved soon, but as you know, in negotiations, it takes two sides.”


Time Warner and Charter have been the major holdouts against carrying the Big Ten Network since it debuted last year. The cable companies wanted to put the network on separate sports tiers, but the network insisted it be available to all cable customers.


The Time Warner deal will put the network on expanded basic cable.


Few details of the agreement had been released this morning, and Miller said the details of Time Warner’s agreement wouldn’t necessarily apply to Charter anyway.


“These agreements are different with every operator,” he said. “It’s not an apples-to-apples situation.”


Charter would be willing to offer the Big Ten Network to all customers if the network drops its price, Miller said.


“The reason that Charter wanted it to go on the sports tier is that, due to its high asking price, we wanted a way in which Big Ten fans can enjoy the channel, while those who are not interested don’t have to incur the cost,” he said.


“If the cost can be negotiated to be reasonable enough, it could go on any level of service.”


Officials from the Big Ten Network could not be reached for comment this morning.


The Big Ten Network will air the first two Badger games this season, including Saturday’s home game against the University of Akron. The network will appear on Channel 63 for Time Warner customers in southeastern Wisconsin.



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