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  • TELEVISION

    Pac-12 fans irate with Charter, DirecTV

    They will be unable to see Duck, Beaver games this Saturday
  • Saturday offers a dreamy television slate for fans of the Oregon and Oregon State football teams.
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  • Saturday offers a dreamy television slate for fans of the Oregon and Oregon State football teams.
    But for those with Charter cable and DirecTV, Saturday may feel more like a nightmare.
    Pac-12 Networks has not reached an agreement with either television provider, meaning sports fans like Eagle Point's Billie Higginbotham and Phoenix's Jeff Rodgers will be unable to watch Oregon host Colorado or Oregon State take on Washington from the comfort of their homes. Both those games will be televised exclusively on the Pac-12 Networks, which Charter and DirecTV don't carry.
    With both the Ducks and Beavers amidst undefeated starts, many fans in Jackson County are irate over the limited access they have to their favorite squads.
    The angst was heightened this week when the World Series began and was televised on FOX. Many local fans missed the opening game Wednesday because DirecTV didn't have an agreement in place with the network. That changed on Thursday, and FOX is now available.
    DISH Network does carry the Pac-12 Networks, as does Ashland Fiber Network.
    Before the Arizona State-Oregon game last week, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said DirecTV officials "have dug in their heels" and he saw no reason for optimism the satellite provider will add the network to its service.
    DirecTV released a statement saying, "DirecTV wants to make (the) Pac-12 Networks available to the fans who want it. To do that, the Pac-12 either needs to agree to a price to make it affordable for all of our customers, as we've offered and done with dozens of other sports networks, or allow Pac-12 fans to buy the network separately or purchase individual games on demand. Unfortunately, the Pac-12 has refused all of those options. Regardless, we stand ready to agree to add the network if they propose a deal that's fair."
    Multiple attempts to reach an official with Charter were unsuccessful.
    Ed Taucher of Central Point had a similar experience trying to contact Charter. His initial email went unanswered, and when he called, he was put on hold for more than five minutes.
    The employee he eventually spoke with "had no idea what my request for a deal with Pac-12 TV was about," Taucher wrote in an email. "I had to repeat my request/question at least three times. He didn't understand me very well but said he would pass it on to his superiors ... What a hassle."
    Hearing things like this makes Rodgers irate.
    "I'll keep the swear words to a minimum," Rodgers said. "It is really, really frustrating. I hate greedy people and that is what we are dealing with here. I have been a DirecTV subscriber for almost 20 years. I have been very loyal. I don't know why a bunch of smart grown men can't figure this out. It makes me sick to my stomach.
    "It makes me mad as hell that there is a huge Oregon following and we can't watch the games because of a bunch of idiots."
    Higginbotham is the longtime manager at Mr. Smith's Sports Bar & Grill in Medford. She said the establishment only had DirecTV but added DISH about three weeks ago. Customers were aggravated that some of their favorite teams were not being shown, Higginbotham said.
    The boiling point came when the bar did not show two Ducks games early in the season.
    "People wanted to watch the game so bad," she recalled.
    She's seen a noticeable increase in business since adding DISH, with fans staying longer and returning. She can now answer the phone and offer reassurance that the Oregon and Oregon State games will be on.
    "If it wasn't for (NFL) Sunday Ticket, we would just have DISH," she said.
    Rodgers said he will terminate his business with DirecTV if the company does not reach a deal with the Pac-12 Networks by season's end. He said he has called and complained. DirecTV eventually offered "some movies," he said. Rodgers said friends of his who also have DirecTV have been given a $10-a-month discount after threatening to switch.
    "I don't want your movies, I don't want your money," Rodgers said. "I just want to watch what I want to watch."
    At her home, Higginbotham pays more than $200 a month for DirecTV. After learning that DISH offered NFL RedZone, she said she would consider switching once her contract expired.
    Rodgers said he would like to see DirecTV and Charter at least offer a pay-per-view option for Pac-12 games.
    "Just go ahead and make it available for those of us who can afford to pay," Rodgers said. "Let us have that option."
    At RedZone Sports Bar N' Grill in Ashland — where Oregon and Oregon State games can be viewed — co-owner Austin Loreman said he feels for out-of-luck fans.
    Business has been outstanding, Loreman said, and patrons are "coming out of the woodwork" to see the Pac-12 Networks. "It's bittersweet," he said. "I think it aggravates fans when they don't have a choice. You have people who are being forced to go out of their homes to see the game they want to watch. That is the unfortunate part."
    Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com
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