Tuesday, March 01, 2011

UH sports leaving KFVE?

Signs point to University of Hawaii sports moving exclusively to Oceanic Time Warner Cable this fall. That would end more than a quarter-century of free over-the-air television, most recently on KFVE, which has marketed itself as "The Home Team."

In Oceanic's contract with UH, 2011 is described as a "transitional term" in which the cable giant may elect to solely produce and show the state university's sports, which would end a nine-year partnership with KFVE.

Yesterday was listed as the final day of the negotiation window between Oceanic and KFVE, according to the contract. Oceanic's contract runs through 2014 and any decisions on the future of the partnership with KFVE are Oceanic's, a UH spokesman said.

Employees of KFVE — which, along with its family of stations, has aired UH sports since 1984 — said they were told by management recently that "everything" is moving to Oceanic, which plans to inaugurate a new UH channel in the fall in addition to its OC 16 channel, which features high school sports among its programming.

Oceanic's new station will be dedicated, it said, to "all things UH."

Oceanic and KFVE paid UH $2.45 million this past year for TV and pay-per-view rights to its athletic events, all but $500,000 reportedly coming from Oceanic.

More than 100 events were shown on free TV, with another 18 appearing exclusively on the pay-per-view package.

Operation by Oceanic is also expected to bring with it some changes among the commentators, some of whom have been doing the games for decades.

After Saturday's UH-New Mexico State game, the final men's basketball game scheduled to be aired on KFVE this season, commentators Jim Leahey and Artie Wilson left hanging the possibility they had worked their last game together after more than 20 years.

"Hopefully (we'll be back) next year, but you never can tell," Leahey told his audience cryptically.

Leahey, who has been the TV voice of UH sports since the 1980s on KGMB and KFVE, and prior to that on radio, is a "year-to-year employee," Fink said.

People in the industry say KFVE has been looking into the purchase of a high-definition TV truck, hoping to secure a production contract with Oceanic and continued employment for its award-winning, 20-member sports crew, much of which has been together since the early 1990s.

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