Televising of Class A basketball state games still in limbo; Internet broadcasts last resort

Posted Feb. 04, 2014, at 3:43 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 04, 2014, at 5:06 p.m.

A impasse involving Time Warner Cable and Portland’s Cumberland County Civic Center, which is putting in peril the televising of the state Class A basketball championship games from the civic center on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, is coming to a head.

In a statement released by Time Warner Cable, TWC representatives said the impasse must be resolved by Wednesday if the games are going to be aired.

The state games are scheduled to be played March 1 at 4 p.m. (girls) and 7 p.m. (boys).

The Time Warner Cable release stated that they had hoped to be able to resolve the disagreement with civic center administrators and team with MPBN to televise the games.

But an agreement had not been reached as of Tuesday.

“We had planned to partner with MPBN again this year to produce and telecast the games and we have the staff and resources in place to assist them,” the release said.

“But in order to partner with MPBN as we’ve done in the past, it was necessary to extend our existing fiber (optic) connection within the Civic Center to reach the press box as a result of the recent renovations [at the civic center],” it stated in the release. “We offered to extend our existing network at no additional cost to the Civic Center. The Civic Center mandated a rental fee for the fiber extension — an unexpected fee we had never been charged before. Because we have not reached an agreement providing permission to complete the extension, we are unable to telecast the games.”

Civic center general manager Steve Crane reiterated that TWC can televise the games for just a $200 origination fee, plus labor costs, if they will remove their cables after the telecasts.

He explained that if TWC wants to keep its cables there permanently so they can televise other sporting events, they will have to pay a yearly fee of $5,000.

The CCCC and Time Warner Cable had an arrangement prior to the renovations under which the cable company paid $10,000 a year to keep its equipment in order to televise a number of sporting events including the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League.

“In return, we would give them tickets to all of our events and they would get their signage on our big scoreboard,” explained Crane. “They would get exposure. And they would also make money off televising games.”

But he said the cable company isn’t interested in a similar arrangement this time around.

“I’m disappointed. I feel like we’re being misrepresented [by Time Warner Cable in their press release],” said Crane. “We aren’t trying to cash in. They’re offering to give us something we don’t need. We don’t make any money off these telecasts.”

The Cumberland County Civic Center also hosts the semifinals in Western Maine classes A and B but those aren’t televised.

Dick Durost, executive director of the Maine Principals Association, said he is still optimistic an agreement can be reached.

“Hopefully, the two sides can find a way to get it done,” said Durost. “There is too much good that comes out of televising the games.”

Durost said if they can’t reach an agreement, “we intend to stream the games live [on the Internet].”

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