High school football fans, spoiled this fall by a steady stream of telecasts on Cox Communications and KSBI-52, should prepare for a three-week telecast drought. Neither broadcast company plans to air any playoff games this season.
The drought will end the weekend of Dec. 6-7, when Fox Sports Oklahoma will broadcast the Classes 6A, 5A, 4A and 3A championship games.
Fox Sports Oklahoma owns the rights to all playoff games as part of its new three-year contract with the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, but it does not plan to air any non-championship games. The network has developed a policy to sell those rights through a Florida marketing company, but neither KSBI nor Cox is interested. In recent years, KSBI and Cox broadcast numerous playoff games when they held the OSSAA telecast rights.
Cox spokeswoman Christine Martin called it a timing issue and said Cox had committed to other programming.
Brady Brus, president of Family Broadcasting Group, which owns KSBI, called terms of the agreement "unbelievably lopsided.”
Brus noted that KSBI would be required to give commercial air time to Youth Sports Marketing for the OSSAA’s use; could not have a title sponsor, which would help defray the huge production costs; and Fox Sports Oklahoma would have rights to replay the telecasts with no reimbursement to KSBI.
According to the rights agreement, fees for broadcast stations would vary from $300 to $500 for early round games and $600 to $1,000 for the semifinals, depending on the class of the competing teams.
A similar fee scale exists for cable systems.