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UT Longhorns Network in contract dispute

Running a business in Texas can entail a lot of unexpected difficulties, along with many ups and downs. However, perhaps nothing can seem as frustrating as an ongoing contract dispute.

Much to the consternation of many Longhorns fans, the University of Texas has recently been caught up in a dispute regarding the launch of a campus sports network. The Longhorn Network is provided by ESPN, but it is currently only carried by Grande Communications. That means the network only reaches roughly 20,000 homes in central Texas.

Expanding beyond that number has been difficult. For one, Time Warner is the largest cable provider in the area, but as yet there has been no deal reached for the company to carry the channel. The same goes for other providers, such as DirecTV and Verizon's FIOS TV service.

The source of the contract dispute seems to be a matter of both cost and demand. On the cost side, ESPN is asking for 40 cents per subscriber per month. On the demand side, it is well-known that for a cable provider to offer a new channel, fans have to demand it. Yet the Longhorn Network has already aired its last football game of the season, so fans have little reason to ask for the channel until the next football season rolls around.

If ESPN, the Longhorn Network and the cable providers prove intractable in their demands, this contract dispute will remain on the minds of many Texans for the coming months. Skilled legal counsel will likely have a hand in reaching an eventual settlement that ensures the resulting contract will not lead to any unintended consequences and is financially sensible. Until then, many Longhorn fans may be waiting for what is sure to be a favorite stop on the television dial.

Source: kut.org, "UT Fans Frustrated by Contract Disputes," Andrew Uhler, Nov. 02, 2011