Fox Sports Net's new trio of college-sports-based regional channels, announced Tuesday, was greeted with less-than-overwhelming enthusiasm from competitor College Sports Television president Brian Bedol, who claimed that Fox is trying to force the independently owned network out of business.
Bedol said FSN’s transition of its three Fox Sports Digital Networks to the Fox College Sports format was designed to "intimidate" CSTV into either partnering with Fox or disbanding the service under the weight of the Fox brand.
He added that the two parties have recently been involved in discussions concerning a potential union, although he would not reveal specific details.
"We will not be bullied into doing something that's bad for us and the industry," Bedol said.
FSN president Bob Thompson would not confirm any acquisition discussions with CSTV, but he said the network is not making any power-play moves for the upstart college-sports network. "In no way is this about us trying to intimidate CSTV into any type of a deal," he added.
The three Fox College Sports channels -- covering the Atlantic, Central and Pacific regions -- will feature more than 800 live men's and women's NCAA events over the course of one year, with each network focusing on events from the major conferences in their respective regions.
In addition, the three channels -- currently in 3 million homes -- will offer national ad-insertion and cross-promotional opportunities not currently offered by Fox Sports Digital Networks.
Fox Cable Networks Group executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Lindsay Gardner said the new entity would not have to renegotiate affiliate deals struck while under the Fox Sports Digital Networks brand.