Friday February 13, 2004
Technique - The South's Liveliest College NewspaperOpinions

GTCN needs to “Dish” up Jacket cagers

By Tony Kluemper Editor-in-Chief

I have a complaint about Georgia Tech basketball; a complaint that actually has nothing to do with the Athletic Association and its ticketing policies. In fact, my problem is often faced by those students who choose not to stand in the long lines with the hopes of possibly getting a good seat in the “Thrillerdome.” Instead, these groups decide to watch games in the comfort of their own on-campus apartments and dorm rooms.

For most, this sounds like a simple solution to the ticketing dilemma, and if the game happens to be nationally televised by the ESPN networks or ABC, fans are allowed to scream at the TV all they want. However, if this game happens to be broadcast over the local Atlanta PAX station, fans are left watching the wonderful primetime offerings of PAX instead of the No. 16 Yellow Jackets. I’m sure most of you who have faced this problem have bombarded GTCN with emails and calls complaining about the problems, only to receive a simple answer regarding the current Dish Network system and its inability to show the programming of the local Atlanta station instead of that which is nationally broadcast.

Due to the lack of nationally televised games for the Jackets this season (none of the so-called experts expected us to be this good), this problem comes up on a nearly weekly basis with fans left sitting around their radios like we’re living in a time warp back to the ‘40s. For those who could care less about that game with the round ball and basket, GTCN’s lack of coverage was also evidenced during one or two of last season’s away football games.

I do not believe GTCN is doing this on purpose. At this point it is beyond the network’s control. However, I do think a little more forward thinking was needed when the change to the Dish Network system was made last summer. I’m sure there are lots of students out there who were overjoyed by the addition of seven new HBO channels and numerous international channels. At the same time, I have to wonder if anyone involved in the change considered how this would affect student viewing of Tech sports. Granted, this likely would not have been such an issue if the Jackets were not ranked in the top 20 with an 18-5 record, but thankfully they are and therefore GTCN must deal with this problem. The network must work out some type of compromise even if our football and basketball programs never again have a winning season. Simply put, if the game is being televised by anyone on any station, Tech students should have the greatest opportunity to watch it.

As of right now, it is pretty clear that the agreement between GTCN and the Dish Network prevents them from providing local feeds of national networks, like PAX TV or Fox Sports South. Therefore, it is essential that when the contract is renegotiated this issue is addressed.

I feel that most students would like the opportunity to watch Tech sports, even if it meant giving up a few HBOs and the Outdoor Living channel. If an agreement cannot be reached between the two parties, I would recommend going back to basic cable. It may not have the wide amount of offerings but this is a case of quality versus quantity. If Tech students are not given the opportunity to watch our teams on campus, the cable service as a whole is lacking in quality. This lack in quality is not made up for with the large quantity of channels.

However, a renegotiation is not likely going to happen before the end of the Jackets’ great season. Therefore, GTCN should make an effort to inform students about the possibility of games being shown on-campus. Perhaps they could announce the weekly schedule of Tech games in the schedule ad they place every week in the Technique, and they should definitely at least put the information on the GTCN webpage. This would give students enough time to plan for another viewing site, instead of being disappointed at having to watch PAX TV instead of tip-off.

GTCN initially made the Dish Network decision to improve the cable system on campus. Now it’s time for GTCN to reevaluate how effective this system really is in providing Tech students with what they really want. But hey, we can all look at the bright side of things. At least March Madness is on CBS and not PAX TV.