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Scott D. Pierce: USU game gaffe not KUTV's fault

Published: Friday, March 27 2009 12:34 a.m. MDT

The phones were ringing off the hook at KUTV last Friday morning — and they weren't people calling to tell the folks at Ch. 2 what a great job they were doing.

People never call to tell you what a great job you're doing. They only call when they're mad about something.

In this case, more than a thousand viewers called to complain because Ch. 2 wasn't showing the Utah State-Marquette game, And, while their frustration was justified, the anger that was aimed at KUTV was off target.

There's a big, long technical explanation for what happened, but what it boils down to is somebody at CBS made a switching error. The network was supposed to provide Ch. 2 the feed that featured the USU game; somebody got it wrong.

And the folks at Ch. 2 had no way of knowing it was wrong until the telecast started. For that matter, they had no way of knowing until after the telecast was already in progress. Like most of the rest of us, when CBS started showing the beginning of another game, the folks at Ch. 2 just assumed the network was filling time until the Aggies and Golden Eagles tipped off.

That's what I thought.

It wasn't until the graphics at the top of the screen showed that the Aggies were under way that anyone realized something was wrong.

Again, there's a big, long, technical explanation for what happened next. KUTV staffers had to go through all sorts of gyrations, including climbing up on the roof and manually adjusting one of the satellite dishes. And that took a while.

About two-thirds of the first half, as it turned out.

The only good news is that what fans missed was the part of the game in which Utah State looked, well, pretty bad. It wasn't until CBS and KUTV got the problem fixed that the Aggies made a game of it.

(A game they probably should have won …)

In the wake of the switching error, the Aggie conspiracy theorists were out in force. Whether they were calling radio stations or posting comments on newspaper Web sites, there was a distinct woe-is-me flavor.

We don't get any respect. KUTV's boss most be a BYU fan. Ch. 2 is blaming the network, but it's really a plot against us!

And, no, I'm not picking on USU fans. BYU and Utah fans would have done exactly the same thing.

The problem with all of this is just so baseless and ridiculous.

(Rumor is that somebody at KUTV told some of the callers that USU wasn't on because he is a North Dakota State alumni and wanted to see his team play. And if the callers kept swearing at him, he told them he just liked the Bison's pretty green uniforms).

Ridiculous? Sure. But not any more ridiculous than the other theories.

Hey, I'm among the most cynical persons on Earth. I've covered TV for 19 years, and I'm skeptical about just about everything a television executive tells me.

If I thought that there was any way Ch. 2 could possibly benefit from this, I'd be suspicious. But the station had absolutely nothing to gain.

And, these days, no media company wants to unnecessarily tick people off.

E-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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