Cox Communications sues OSSAA, broadcast group over TV rights

Sunday, November 20th 2005, 11:59 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Cox Communications has filed a lawsuit against the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association and Family Broadcasting Group over a three-year broadcast rights deal that the OSSAA made with KSBI-52 in September.

The suit, filed Friday in Oklahoma County District Court, is seeking an injunction that would allow Cox to broadcast the semifinals and finals of the state football tournament and damages from the loss of the television rights.

Under terms of the new contract, KSBI holds exclusive television rights to those games.

``We believe we have been denied our right to carry these games,'' said Tim Tippit, Vice President of Government and Public Relations, Cox Communications Oklahoma. ``We've had the contract to carry these games for the last six years. We did try to work things out with the OSSAA, but were left with no recourse but to file this action.

``Our viewers have come to expect Cox's coverage of these playoffs as well as coverage of all other high school playoff games.''

Brady Brus, president of Family Broadcasting Group, which owns KSBI, said he had no comment about the lawsuit.

Danny Rennels, OSSAA executive secretary, could not be reached for comment.

In an earlier interview, Rennels said KSBI will pay $14,000 a year and a percentage of advertising revenue for the next three school years for the TV rights to OSSAA state championship events. He said Cox had paid $10,000 a year under its three-year agreement that expired after last school year.

In the lawsuit, Cox claims that it was denied its right of first refusal from the previous agreement. Cox also stated it had made a proposal to enter into a partnership with broadcast stations in Tulsa and Oklahoma City that would broaden its coverage area.

Rennels said the OSSAA board of directors had decided to award the broadcast rights to KSBI because of its larger coverage area. KSBI reaches 1.2 million homes, covering 50 of the state's 77 counties, Brus said. Cox has about 500,000 subscribers, primarily in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas.