Fight blackout in the dark |

Fight blackout in the dark

Mike Traum

Confusion reigns for area cable providers when it comes to whether Saturday’s heavyweight title fight will televised or blacked out locally.

Lennox Lewis will meet Henry Akinwande for the World Boxing Council title at Caesars Tahoe – an event that Home Box Office will cover for its customers. But spokespeople for TCI Cable, which serves South and North Lake Tahoe, and American Cable, which covers the Meyers and Tahoe Paradise area, said the pay-cable station is keeping them in the dark.

“HBO is giving us conflicting word on that and being kind of vague,” said TCI’s John Richards. “We’ve had customers calling saying how dare you black us out when we’re paying for (the station). And they have a legitimate point.

“We’re not blacking it out at this point because nobody has told us to do it. HBO said they’ll call us on Saturday to tell us whether it’s blacked out or not.”

Marvin O’Dell at American Cable said his company usually receives a blackout advisory from companies in the days leading up to an event. As of Wednesday afternoon, O’Dell hadn’t heard from HBO.

“Typically the send a message and they haven’t yet,” said O’Dell, whose company provides approximately 1,000 residents with the pay channel. “But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to black it out. It’s basically out of our control.”

As of Wednesday, HBO was unavailable for comment.

Both cable operators said in blackout situations, typically when an event is not sold out, the network will cut the “feed” at the source, meaning the satellite. It’s a disconnection that basically puts the operators at the mercy of the provider, in this case HBO, since once it’s blocked, cable companies have no access to the signal.

But in the event of a sellout, companies usually lift the blackout. As of Wednesday, Caesars Marketing Manager David Turner said that while tickets are still available, he expects the 2,100 seat showroom to be sold out by Saturday.

Still, Turner said his information from HBO suggests that even in the event of a sellout, HBO plans to completely black out the “Reno/Tahoe region,” with a tape-delay showing planned for other West Coast markets.

“They’re telling us the Reno/Tahoe area will definitely be blacked out. And the other West Coast transmitters won’t show he fight live,” he said.

Richards said TCI is planning to show the fight tape-delayed at 7 p.m., unless he receives word from HBO.

Television viewers with satellite dishes should be able to receive one of HBO’s three East Coast feeds, according to Tim Cain at Accurate Audio Video. The fight is expected to be shown live in those time zones.

In any event, both Richards and O’Dell said not televising the fight locally would upset their customer base. But neither could confirm whether will be shown.

“We want our customers to have it. My gut feeling is that it’ll be on. But we just don’t know for sure,” Richards said.

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