Campus pays more for Longhorn Network

Liz Farmer

ESPN is paying the University $300 million over the next 20 years so they can produce the Longhorn Network, but to watch it on campus, students may have to absorb an extra fee being paid to the campus cable provider.

The University’s Division of Housing and Food Services is using reserve funds to cover this year’s $69,280.50 increase in subscription fees to its cable provider, Grande Communications, said Laurie Mackey, director of administrative services at the Division of Housing and Food Services.

“[The fund] is used for any types of costs that weren’t budgeted for that year,” Mackey said.

She said the division will consider increasing student costs for contracts next year if the division cannot cover the rates themselves.

“Grande charged each room in the residence hall $5.85,” Mackey said. “They are charging an additional $1.50 to cover Longhorn Network.”

Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer, said it is important to carry the network on campus for the students, and the agreement puts the Longhorn Network on a major cable provider for Central Texas.

“We want this network to be successful, and it’s going to require several investments to make it successful,” Hegarty said.

Large providers such as AT&T and Time Warner have not picked up the Longhorn Network.

“Hopefully, what this does is it helps other large investors to begin to carry the Longhorn channel, but somebody’s got to be first,” Hegarty said.

Adjunct journalism professor Michael Whitney said in an interview last week that he has watched every UT football game for the past five years, but as a Time Warner customer he will not be able to watch the games provided by the Longhorn Network on TV.

“It’s not that I don’t understand that they’re still going through negotiations,” Whitney said. “But I don’t understand why they let it get to this late in the season. It’s not good if it’s a network that no one can watch.”

The Longhorn Network also added 12 UT basketball games and five UT-San Antonio football games. The vice president of Longhorn Network programming, Dave Brown, said in a press release that the addition of the UT basketball games to the Longhorn Network continues the network’s high profile coverage.

“We’ve compiled a terrific regular-season schedule in our first year of coverage,” Brown said in the press release.

UTSA athletics director Lynn Hickey said in a press release that he is excited for the remaining UTSA football games to be televised on the Longhorn Network.

“This will provide great exposure for our football program and our university,” Hickey said.

Printed on Friday, September 16, 2011 as: UT network may charge dorm students additional fee.