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EDITORIAL: NFL, Big Ten making decisions that ignore fans

Packer fans justifiably have their hackles up about the dearth of television coverage available tomorrow when 10-1 Green Bay faces 10-1 Dallas. Many are blaming their local cable TV provider, which in Superior is Charter Communications. More logi...

Packer fans justifiably have their hackles up about the dearth of television coverage available tomorrow when 10-1 Green Bay faces 10-1 Dallas. Many are blaming their local cable TV provider, which in Superior is Charter Communications. More logically, fingers should be pointed at the National Football League.

The same is true in college football, which is going the same direction with the Big Ten Network. Like the NFL, Big Ten moguls want to pin the blame on the cable TV industry as leagues try to milk the sport for larger and larger bags of cash.

In both cases, it's league officials who abandoned their fans in the name of greed. Let's acknowledge cable companies are third-party independent businesses that have their own stockholders to serve.

True, they could pick up Packer and Badger games, an option accepted by satellite TV providers. Unfortunately, the leagues are demanding cable firms offer games to all customers as part of a "basic" package, which would increase the rate everyone must pay. And the cost they're demanding is among the highest that cable providers must pay for any channel. The Big 10 and NFL won't agree to offer games on a separate tier provided only to those willing to pay the extra cost.

Leagues are forgetting the most important rule in business: Serve your customers. They've abandoned the people who pay their bills, and they don't have big enough shoulders to accept responsibility.

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Until the matter is resolved, local fans can switch to satellite TV, watch games at a friend's home or join the festivities at a neighborhood tavern. Although the tavern option works for some, it's not for those having mobility constraints, financial limitations, moral objections or, as some may feel, children.

As a service to readers, The Telegram on Thursday will list establishments in the Sports section where the game can be viewed. Those that wish to be included on the list should call Sports Editor Ken Olson at 395-5023 by 8 a.m. Only establishments that call or leave a message by that time will be included.

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