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The mtn., DirecTV reach pact

Published: Friday, Feb. 22 2008 12:53 a.m. MST

A deal has apparently been reached with DirecTV to begin airing The mtn. network in August.
A pact may have been agreed to but nothing is signed, according to Javan Hedlund, Mountain West Conference associate commissioner for communications.
"If the commissioner told me a deal has been signed, I would immediately put out an announcement as fast as possible," said Hedlund.
The San Diego Union-Tribune broke the news Thursday afternoon that the MWC "had reached an agreement" with DirecTV to put league games on satellite for national distribution and programming starting Aug. 1.
The source of the news came from San Diego State athletic director Jeff Schemmel who told reporters at a press conference he had received the news from the MWC offices that morning that a deal had been signed.
Such a deal has been rumored imminent for a month. Deals with both DirecTV and DishNetwork have been expected for the past two years, but people close to negotiations have said DirecTV should be on board this year and would lead the way.
Hayne Ellis, communications manager for The mtn., the league's main TV outlet, said he wished he had an announcement to make.
"We're close. DirecTV has agreed in principle to a deal, but nothing has been signed.
"I can say we are close, very close but the agreement lacks signatures right now. Hopefully we will have something to announce soon," said Ellis.
Schemmel said DirecTV would put MWC programming on its system by Aug. 1. He also indicated there would be an official announcement late Thursday or Friday.
The MWC said it had no plans for a press release Thursday night.
"It's invigorating and exciting for all of us," Schemmel said. "(There is) a realization of how much a satellite deal will mean to recruiting and the ability of people across the country to see us play."
Today, The mtn. is distributed by more than 20 cable companies to 1.2 million homes nationwide. MWC partners Versus (70 million) and CSTV (42 million) also have the ability to air some select MWC games on both satellite and cable companies.
Adding DirecTV would significantly open up coverage of the league's athletic events and would push its primary competitor, DishNetwork to follow suit.


E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com

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