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Mountain West will help UH keep pay-per-view deal

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The Mountain West Conference has pledged its "reasonable efforts" to help the University of Hawaii preserve its lucrative pay-per-view television package and at least $2.3 million in annual income when the Rainbow Warriors join the conference in football in 2012.

A contract signed by Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson and UH president M.R.C. Greenwood this month, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, said the conference will attempt to "negotiate a local area ‘carve-out’ for UH with its national television broadcast contract."

In addition, the conference "shall use its reasonable effort — but shall not be obligated — to" secure the $2.3 million the school has been banking from its pay-per-view deal with Oceanic Time Warner Cable.

UH athletic director Jim Donovan referred questions to the conference, which was not immediately able to provide comment.

Under a contract with Oceanic scheduled to run through 2014, UH is guaranteed at least $2.3 million — or about 8 percent of its annual income — from its local TV rights. UH has earned as much as $2.6 million in some years thanks to profit sharing with its partners, Oceanic and KFVE.

UH is scheduled to leave the Western Athletic Conference on June 30, 2012, with its football team moving to the MWC and most of its other teams entering the Big West Conference. UH has operated a pay-per-view package since 2002, earning more than $12 million.

But part of UH’s agreement to join the Mountain West in 2012 specifies that UH will assign "all local, regional, national and international broadcast rights" to the Mountain West.

The Mountain West has contracts with CBS College Sports and Comcast signed through 2015-16 worth about $12 million a year. Both partners, however, have the option to renegotiate terms in the wake of membership changes that have Brigham Young and Utah leaving this year and Texas Christian departing in 2012. Boise State joins the Mountain West in 2011 and UH, Fresno State and Nevada join in 2012.

UH’s agreement with the Mountain West says the $2.3 million payment from the conference "may come from all television sources …"

In addition, the contract states, "Hawaii shall not be entitled to share in other national TV contract revenue until such time as all other MWC institutions have received at least $2.3 million in TV revenue from football for that academic year, at which point Hawaii shall share in any additional revenues above this threshold."

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