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A negotiation impasse between the Big Ten Network and Dish Network could prevent the satellite company's customers from watching college football's opening weekend this Saturday on BTN.
"Dish's current agreement to distribute (BTN) expires August 31, this Friday," said Elizabeth Conlisk, the BTN's vice president of communications and university relations. "At this point, we're pretty far apart. It looks like Dish could stop carrying BTN."
BTN is scheduled to broadcast four Big Ten football games this Saturday. Iowa's opener against Northern Illinois will air on ESPNU, but BTN will carry Northern Iowa's 2:30 p.m. game at Wisconsin. Iowa's games against in-state rivals Iowa State (Sept. 8 ) and Northern Iowa (Sept. 15 ) will air on BTN. A time and network for the Hawkeyes' Sept. 25 game against Central Michigan has not been disclosed.
Among the BTN games airing this Saturday include new Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer's debut against Miami (Ohio) and Purdue's Danny Hope coaching against his former team, Eastern Kentucky. Indiana State at Indiana is the network's other game.
Dish Network was one of the first companies to sign a distribution deal with the BTN before the cable company launched on Aug. 30, 2007. BTN is jointly owned by the Big Ten (49 percent) and Fox (51 percent).
Conlisk said Fox representatives will continue to negotiate with Dish Network. BTN has set up a website to discuss the the situation at www.iwantbtn.com and a phone number: 855-WANT-B1o.
"We do hope it will be resolved," Conlisk said.
Attempts to reach Dish Network representatives were unsuccessful Sunday morning.
Dish Network has experienced several recent distribution stalemates, including a local dispute with Sinclair Broadcast Group's KGAN and KFXA in Cedar Rapids. KGAN announced on its website that Sinclair and Dish reached an agreement in principle on a retransmission consent agreement. Dish Network has a high-profile impasse with AMC that began July 1.