Bidders aim to clear
fuzzy UH TV picture

KHNL/KFVE has held
the broadcast rights for 22 years,
but might not submit a proposal

Adjust the rabbit ears and slap the side of the set. Or, if you have cable, reset the box.

UH Whatever you do, though, the University of Hawaii television sports picture remains unclear just a few days before Friday's deadline for proposals from bidders for the UH contract -- and the real wheeling and dealing could take place afterward.

At least two entities are expected to bid for the contract: Oceanic Time Warner and Rick Blangiardi of Emmis Communications.

John Fink of KHNL/KFVE (Channels 8 and 5) said last night that "The Home Team," which has held the rights to broadcast UH sports the past 22 years, might not submit a proposal.

"We'll take a look at it on Friday and see if it makes sense," said Fink, who is general manager and vice president. "We just spent two months (negotiating with UH for an extension). If we put in a bid it would have to make sense for the station, the fans and the business standpoint."

After not coming to an agreement with KHNL/KFVE, UH sent out a request for proposals April 22. Oceanic Time Warner president Nate Smith said he wishes he had more time.

"We're definitely not complaining, but it's a very complicated process, and with the short notice we really have to put our nose to the grindstone," he said.

The RFP does not specify a minimum bid, but sources have said UH might be able to command $1.5 million a year from deep-pocketed Oceanic. UH officials would not confirm the price tag.

That's quite a bump from the $700,000 (plus pay-per-view bonuses) that UH gets from KHNL/KFVE in the current contract.

The RFP is purposely open-ended, UH associate athletic director for external affairs John McNamara said.

"We want to give prospective bidders latitude," he said.

UH wants the proposals to address at least six categories: advertising opportunities, market coverage, financial benefits, Internet opportunities, number of telecasts (minimum 70), quality of telecasts and other benefits (optional).

The market coverage category asks for "total number and percentage of state households reached" to be addressed. Not all Hawaii households have access to cable, and UH athletic director Herman Frazier has said a partnership might be the best setup for the school.

If a partnership comes about, it will be developed after the bids are evaluated by a UH committee that has yet to be formed. Questions like how many events will be pay-per-view, how many will be telecast live and how many will be shown over air as opposed to cable will be addressed.

"Anything's possible," Smith said. "We would like to explore what a broadcast partner could be. We're not predisposed to all cable."

Smith said he met with Fink, but not since the RFP was distributed.

"I think it would be inappropriate now," he said. "We'll let the process of the bid sort itself out first."

Neither Blangiardi, who has been out of town, nor a representative attended an optional pre-bid meeting last Friday. But he said he still plans to submit a proposal.

"It would be foolish to say anything at this point, but we're going to stay involved to the end, whatever that will be," said Blangiardi, who is the general manager of KHON (Channel 2) and KGMB (Channel 9).

He said he is open to a potential partnership with Oceanic.

"Yes. I think we'll stay open to any options that might develop," the former UH football player and assistant coach said. "We have always been interested in UH sports and always will be."

Blangiardi headed the first group to broadcast UH sports on a regular basis, in 1984 on KHNL's precursor, KIKU (Channel 13).

E-mail to Sports Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com