Remember the blockbuster TV deal the University of Texas signed with ESPN? The Longhorn Network is set to go live in August after ESPN agreed to pay them around $300 million for the next 20 years. Well apparently Texas is in such high demand ESPN signed a sweetheart deal just to lock them up. So much so that they’ve conceded the ability to criticize the school in their contract.
“In the event that UT reasonably determines that any on-air talent does not reflect the quality and reputation desired by UT for the Network based on inappropriate statements made or actions taken by such talent and so notifies ESPN, ESPN will cause such talent to be promptly replaced (and will in any event no longer allow them on air following such notice).”
The first rule of ESPN and Texas’ broadcasting arrangement is you do not talk badly about the Longhorns. The second rule of ESPN and Texas’ broadcasting arrangement is you do not talk badly about the Longhorns. The third rule of ESPN and Texas’ broadcasting arrangement is you do not talk badly about the Longhorns.
Does anyone else see a problem here? Is it alarming to anyone else that one of the largest and most important sports networks in the country won’t be allowed to say anything controversial about one of the biggest football programs around? I understand objectivity is tough to achieve, but there’s a difference between having natural biases and outright cheerleading. I’m afraid we’re veering into dangerous ground here.