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Scott D. Pierce: Nothing new with The mtn., Dish Network

Published: Friday, Jan. 23 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

Have we all gotten complacent about the Mountain West Conference's television situation?

Maybe.

I'm not sure that "complacent" is the right word; "resigned" might be better.

Certainly, I've been writing about it less in recent months. And, apparently, some of you have noticed.

Including one thoughtful reader who checks out the Deseret News online from Las Vegas. A Dish Network subscriber who was wondering if there has been any movement on negotiations between The mtn., and that satellite provider.

(And, while we continue to be told that the two sides are still talking, there are no announcements in the offing.)

"I hate the idea that The mtn. seems satisfied that it is on satellite and isn't really worrying about getting it on Dish Network anymore. Is this an attitude you have noticed as well? Maybe it is because half of the people upset about not being able to have it are now appeased (those that had DirecTV to begin with, plus those who switched from Dish or whatever company they were with)."

I'll readily admit that, once The mtn. managed to get on DirecTV, some of the urgency was gone. And that I'm somewhat less sympathetic to the complainers out there because there is a way to get access to The mtn., Versus and CBS C if you really want it.

But, as the e-mailer pointed out, "People have stopped talking about it. Sports radio no longer debates it. Columnists no longer write about it. My friend used to joke that you could build a house on all the columns you have written on The mtn. debacle."

Yeah, well, it seemed that way to me, too.

"I think the attitude is now coming from the conference, as well as The mtn., is — if you want it, just switch to DirecTV.

"However, besides the obvious contracts that many of us are tied into, I flat out prefer Dish Network. I really enjoy their hardware, I love the massive hard drives, and the fact you can attach external hard drives to your receiver, which essentially allow you unlimited storage space at less than a dollar per hour if you find a good deal on an external hard drive. I have hundreds of dollars tied into my system, and it would probably be $500 for me to switch to DirecTV."

To be upfront about it, I have subscribed to DirecTV since long before The mtn. was launched and have no complaints. Before that, I had Dish and also had no complaints — but when I moved, I switched companies because new subscribers got a great deal on equipment.

Still, our thoughtful e-mailer makes some excellent points. It does seem like we're all resigned to the MWC's TV fate and have stopped complaining about it.

Think of this as a reminder to the MWC office as well as member institutions that getting The mtn. on DirecTV was only winning one battle — fans are still losing the war.

And fans deserve to know more about the state of negotiations with Dish Network.

"I have this feeling that the day after I shell out half a grand to switch over to DirecTV and pay installation costs, setup fees, and pay for three HD DVRS, Dish will pick up the channel."

If you think television is sports-obsessed in Utah — and it is — we're not even in the same league as some other parts of the country.

For example, the ABC affiliate in Pittsburgh ticked off fans of "Brothers & Sisters" this past Sunday when it pre-empted that show to carry the "breaking news" that the Steelers had defeated the Ravens — a game that aired on CBS.

I'm actually a longtime Steelers fan (I used to watch all their games on WBRE-TV out of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton when I was a kid), and even I think that's crazy.

It's not like I'm surprised. Way back in 1988, I happened to be in the Pittsburgh area when Steelers owner Art Rooney died — and all the local stations pre-empted all their regular programming to cover the funeral as if Rooney was a president or a pope.

Really.

E-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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