Last week, I spent much time on air discussing Miner TV. With UTEP's recent turnaround in basketball, there has been more of a public demand for basketball road games to be televised. I wrote a blog about this subject last week, and Joe Muench also discussed the issue in Sunday's El Paso Times. Miner TV has picked up 325 Twitter followers and continues to urge the El Paso public to demand for more basketball games televised this season. Kevin Lovell, General Manager of KVIA-TV, addressed the recent columns on the issue in an email and had this response to both me and Joe Muench.

Steve and Joe,

You each addressed issues surrounding UTEP basketball television coverage in your weekend columns. There seems to be some lack of information regarding the capability of KVIA to carry the games. KVIA-TV’s primary over-the-air signal is on ABC. We have secondary over-the-air digital channels that broadcast El Paso-Las Cruces CW, ABC-7 News Now (a 24-hour local news and weather channel) and El Paso Azteca. It is true that ABC network contractual obligations make it extremely difficult to broadcast any Miner basketball games on the ABC channel. However, three years ago we carried the UTEP at Memphis game on a Saturday afternoon. I have a little bit of flexibility to occasionally carry a weekend daytime game on the ABC affiliate. The El Paso-Las Cruces CW has far fewer restrictions. I can air UTEP basketball games at any time on Saturdays.

In fact, we have carried a select few UTEP football and basketball Saturday games in recent years. I am perfectly willing to provide UTEP or its marketing partner free broadcast carriage of Miner basketball and football games on Saturdays. All KVIA would ask in return is a small percentage of the advertising inventory to recover our costs. Our CW has excellent distribution, far better than Time Warner. It’s 7.2 over-the-air which is available to every home with a television in our viewing area. The CW has an excellent lower tier channel position on Time Warner but also is available on good Dish and DirecTV channels. It’s also carried on Comcast in Las Cruces. The only area distributor that doesn’t carry our CW is AT&T U-Verse which has the smallest subscriber base of all cable and satellite providers. Most importantly every El Paso home can receive CW with an antenna.

UTEP athletic and sports marketing officials are fully aware of our CW’s ability to carry Miner basketball games on Saturdays. All UTEP has to do is secure the advertising and we will provide excellent over-the-air distribution free of charge on any Saturday. NMSU is more proactive and we carry far more Aggie than Miner basketball games as a result.

One final note: CW contractual obligations require us to carry CW programming from 7 – 9 pm on weeknights. If I pushed it, I might be able to carry a key selected Miner basketball game during the week. I can do most anything I want outside of the 7-9 pm weekday window. No guarantees about that, but so far UTEP has been unable to come up with the advertiser base to support the production cost of Miner basketball games. I’ve got the channel for them when they do.

Thanks for your understanding.

Kevin Lovell
General Manager

So, the ball is now in UTEP's court regarding Miner TV. Let's just hope they don't dribble it out of bounds. The Miners have two road games that will be nationally televised: February 6th at East Carolina (Fox Sports 1) and February 22nd at Southern Miss (CBS Sports). They also have a regional televised game on March 2nd at North Texas (Time Warner Texas). It will be interesting to see if IMG College (who handles the university's sports marketing for radio and TV) is able to get enough sponsorship dollars to televise the three remaining road games. One of those games will be played on a Saturday night (February 8th @ Old Dominion) and the other two will be played on Thursday nights (February 20th @ Tulane and March 6th @ UTSA). For now, Miner fans will need to do their part and pack the Don Haskins Center for the remaining home games. Thursday night's game against preseason favorite Louisiana Tech has the potential to be one of the best games in C-USA league play, and hopefully the first sellout of the season.