Local Connection: UH’s Lost Opportunity

Hawaii News Now General Manager Rick Blangiardi
Hawaii News Now General Manager Rick Blangiardi

By: Rick Blangiardi

The University of Hawaii, at the close of February, signed an exclusive six-year deal with Oceanic Time Warner Cable to broadcast UH sports, including a pay-per-view component and a commitment to at least 60 sporting events including seven football games.

Oceanic had an exclusive four-month window to negotiate, after which time other interested parties could present their offer. We have made no secret of our desire at Hawaii News Now to make a competitive bid to televise UH sports. A key difference between Oceanic and us is that we reach all homes in Hawaii and Oceanic does not. We also strongly believe in doing away with pay-per-view so that everyone has access to see the games.

UH did not give us the opportunity to present our strong proposal because, two weeks before the window was to open to additional bids, it signed its' deal with Oceanic. And then, on the final day of the window, it announced a deal had been reached.

We had made it clear to a number of parties, including athletics director Ben Jay and UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple, that we would be presenting our package once our time had come. We never got that chance. I ask you, what reputable business or athletic department, not to mention one that is struggling financially, would not want to at least see a competing proposal that could have earned them considerably more money, and in our opinion, would have provided state of the art production values and to a broader audience statewide?

Chancellor Apple told the Star Advertiser that anyone had a chance to submit a proposal at any time during the exclusive negotiating period with Oceanic. Chancellor Apple knows, or should know, that statement was false. Neither he, nor Ben Jay, has ever contacted us to explain their decision.

We have not been afforded what we believe is our legal right to show the University of Hawaii what we had to offer.

We plan to continue to find out what went on behind the scenes. The lack of transparency in this deal, we believe, has cost UH dearly and especially the UH fan base.

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