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Pac-12 Network still on sidelines with DirecTV

DirecTV's deal with SEC Network has the Pac-12 miffed

DirecTV's new deal to carry ESPN's SEC Network, a college sports channel devoted to the Southeastern Conference, isn't sitting well with Larry Scott, the commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference, whose own channels are still not carried by the satellite broadcaster.

Launched in 2012, Pac-12 Networks is the conference's sports service composed of a national channel and several regional networks. In Los Angeles, for example, there is a Pac-12 channel devoted to USC and UCLA sports.

Pac-12 is carried here by Time Warner Cable, Dish Network and AT&T's U-Verse. DirecTV is the big holdout, and that is unlikely to change this season. Charter Communications also does not carry Pac-12. Overall, the Pac-12 network is available in over 60 million homes.

"We've been disappointed that DirecTV has been willing to negotiate with ESPN for the SEC Network but not Pac-12," Scott said. "It is certainly not consistent with them saying they care about what the consumer wants."

Scott is miffed that the SEC Network will be available to DirecTV's Southern California subscribers while the Pac-12 channels won't be. He thinks the fact that Walt Disney Co. is behind the new network played a part in the satellite service's willingness to get a deal done.

"It appears this is an example of DirecTV being willing only to deal with big conglomerates who have muscle and leverage beyond the interest of consumers," Scott said.

Unlike the SEC Network and the Big Ten Network, which counts Fox Sports as a partner, the Pac-12 Networks operation is independent.

A DirecTV spokesman said the fact that the SEC Network is owned by ESPN and Disney, which has lots of other channels the satellite broadcaster carries, had nothing to do with the new agreement.

"Our goal is to get the right value for our customers," the spokesman said.

Scott is hopeful that if AT&T closes on its deal to acquire DirecTV, it will ultimately be good for the Pac-12 Networks. Besides already being carried on U-Verse, AT&T is also a Pac-12 sponsor.

"We have a great relationship with AT&T," said Scott. "I think we can have positive and constructive conversations if that merger comes to pass."

Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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