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Lions fan tackled for loss in TV coverage game

Guest op-ed

August 5, 2012
rich bjorne , The Mining Journal

I am responding to the July 20th Sports section article regarding the TV coverage of the Lions games.

I was confused by the statements from Charter and TV6/Fox U.P. as they weren't clear on exactly what happened or who did what. But before I get into my concerns, I want to make one thing clear.

Although I am a Lions fan, I believe that Packers fans are entitled to see all of their team's games.

To begin, I went to Charter's office in Negaunee. I asked about the dropping of the Lions games. The representative keyed in my question and read me Charter's position off of the computer screen.

Charter said Fox dropped the Lions games because the majority of area viewers are Packers fans. So Fox will air the Packers. I asked, "You mean the Fox Network itself made that decision? What do they care what games are broadcast? Besides, what does that have to do with Charter dropping WLUK which already carries the Packers?" They just said it wasn't their fault, it was Fox.

What did they mean by Fox? Was it the national broadcasting network or Fox U.P.? They didn't say, just that it was Fox.

I called TV6/Fox U.P. and spoke to the programming manager. He said that because Charter dropped WLUK, they had to decide on which games to carry. Since the Packers have a bigger fan base, they went with Green Bay.

I told him what Charter said about Fox dropping the Lions games. He seemingly didn't know what Charter was referring to, and said that Fox U.P. is airing three Lions games this year.

He told me that they wouldn't be airing the second game of the regular season between Green Bay and Chicago on Thursday, Sept. 13, because it is broadcast by the NFL Network.

I called WLUK in Green Bay. I spoke to their chief engineer and explained that Charter said WLUK was being dropped over a licensing fee dispute. I asked if that was true.

He said he couldn't speak for Charter or Fox U.P., but the majority of the time there are two reasons why a station is dropped. The first is because the cable company is clearing bandwidth for another channel.

The second is because a local Fox affiliate requested that a competing Fox station like WLUK be dropped from the cable company's line-up. WLUK and Fox U.P. have identical Fox Network programming (football games excluded), so I understand why Fox U.P. might request dropping WLUK.

It's just good business, as Fox U.P. would want to be the exclusive affiliate of the Fox Network for Upper Michigan.

For clarification, I don't even know if this happened. Fox U.P. may or may not have made the request.

I asked WLUK about the game on the NFL Network. I was told that WLUK was outbid by another local station for the rights to that game. So, even if WLUK remained on Charter, we wouldn't get the game. I wonder if the outbidding station is currently on Charter cable. Or will it show up in place of WLUK? I guess we'll find out.

So here's what we've got.

Charter claims Fox is at fault.

TV6/Fox U.P. says it's because Charter dropped WLUK.

WLUK says the possibility exists that it could be Fox U.P., Charter, or both.

Who's on first?

I don't care who did what. In my opinion, a lot of smoke was blown in The Mining Journal's direction for the article. The truth would have been easier to swallow.

Because Lions fans are a significant portion of Charter's subscribers, we should be making phone calls or stopping at Charter's office to voice our opinion, otherwise they'll think nobody cares.

I believe it is incumbent upon Charter to find a way to broadcast all of the Lions and Packers games. Otherwise, they may have a mass exodus of Lions fans for satellite TV.

Editor's note: Rich Bjorne resides in Ishpeming.



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