Now it's personal. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, left, on a campaign to shove his Big Ten Network down the throats of cable TV giant Comcast, asked the company for an apology over remarks that he claimed were "intended to denigrate institutions and teams" in his conference.
Comcast's reply: Get lost.
Comcast, the leading cable TV provider in Big Ten markets, says the network is too expensive to carry on the basic tier of programming. David Cohen, above right, executive vice president of Comcast, told the New York Times in a story published Monday that he has "no doubt that the Big Ten will try to rile up their fans and alumni to say that big bad Comcast is denying their content to Big Ten fans and alumni."
On Wednesday, Comcast issued a statement saying that the network will show "second and third-tier sporting events" and called it "a niche sports channel" and added: "Indiana basketball fans don't want to watch Iowa volleyball, but the Big Ten wants everyone to pay for their new network."
Delany fired back on Thursday. "In the Midwest, when you're talking about a women's sports team, you talk about them with respect," Delany said. "They're not second tier. Certainly, games at Michigan and Penn State and Ohio State — I don't care who the opponent is, those are not second-tier games. To the extent that those remarks were intended to denigrate institutions or teams or, in particular the women's volleyball team at Iowa, I think they ought to be rethought. I think if clarifications are necessary, that's fine. And really, if they were intended to denigrate, there ought to be an apology."
To reinforce Delany's position (and to rile up fans, no doubt), the Big Ten Network issued a press release stating that it pledges to broadcast an equal number of men's and women's events by the third year. ... In other words, the Big Ten Network just acknowledged it will offer second-tier programming on an equal basis in three years.
Cohen wasted little time with his reply, sending a letter to Delany.
"Commissioner, you are a representative of an athletic conference made up of some of the finest academic institutions in the country," Cohen wrote. "Those institutions — and the students they seek to educate — should expect all of their representatives to maintain basic standards of integrity. Your mischaracterizations and overstatements are not consistent with such standards. Our hope is that we can keep our differing opinions regarding this carriage issue from resulting in any further personal attacks."
The Wiz scores this round in favor of Cohen, 10-9.