Cable sports advertising plan rejected

April 02, 1993|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Citing a lack of resources and a reluctance to permit paid

advertising on the county's educational-access cable TV channel, Howard County School Superintendent Michael Hickey has rejected a proposal to air commercials during Cable 8 sports broadcasts.

The proposal, written by Steve Bassett -- a professional broadcaster who has done volunteer play-by-play work for Cable 8 the past two years -- is designed to raise money for the county's financially strapped high school athletic programs.

Bassett proposed that Cable 8, which will air about 20 high school games this school year, expand its operation to about 40 games.

He predicted that about $1 million could be generated through corporate sponsors and local businesses. Bassett figures the revenue, besides financing athletics, also would pay for additional operating expenses incurred by Cable 8. The rest would go to the Department of Communications, which provides educational programming for the station. Bassett projected that as much as $23,000 per high school could be raised.

"I respect the thinking behind the proposal, but our main role with Cable 8 is to be an educational channel, not a sports channel," Hickey said. "Our staff is already stretched to the limit, and to take on a commercial concept like this would tax us beyond our capability.

"While sports is a very important part of the school system, it's clearly a secondary part. I think I know what our mission is at Cable 8, and it's not to be a commercial sports channel."

Bassett is disappointed that the proposal was shot down after a brief examination. Bassett expected his idea to generate more discussion among school board members, the school community and the business community.

"I thought at least a committee could have been put together to study the concept further," Bassett said. "I'd have liked to have been able to appear before the school board to explain the proposal more.

"I think they [school officials] missed the point. The idea is to put money back in the school system, not just to televise games. The idea is to put money back into the school system by using sports. Sports can be a magnet to generate funds. This county should look at what a catalyst athletics can be for a school system."

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