Craft your words carefully, Longhorn Network analysts. Well, perhaps.
The Longhorn Network, which is set to make its debut this August, has gained plenty of headlines since ESPN and Texas reached a deal that will pay the university $300 million over the course of two decades. And as ESPN has begun spending millions into building a studio on the UT campus and getting the show ready for its 2011 fall launch, the American-Statesman has posted some very intriguing aspects of the contract that will give the university final say when it comes to certain employment aspects on the channel.
This courtesy of the American-Statesman
According to the 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).”
On Tuesday, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz explained in an email, “This is not common in ESPN agreements because this UT network is so unique/new for us …The provision does not allow for random replacement of commentators or reaction to critical comments… it’s more about potential situations where a commentator makes completely inappropriate comments or gets involved in inappropriate actions.”
The question remains, however, what exactly this means when it comes to the university’s control and what could constitute firing an ESPN employee. Is this strictly for the over-the-top on-air craziness or is this a censorship issue that stems from the university wanting to keep things positive?
While the ESPN spokesman clarified things leaning away from the “critical” comments, it was interesting to hear that this kind of agreement “was not common” in contacts they’ve dealt with. I can only assume, (no T.V. contract background here), that most business entities would cover themselves in the event that a reporter decides to unleash on his ex-wife during a telecast.
This will certainly generate some conversation among folks, but in the end it might just be some fine print in a contract loaded with unprecedented lingo, or maybe not. I guess we’ll find out when the first studio analysts calls for a quarterback change after week three if one is deemed necessary.