News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 2, 2011

HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: WTHI defends decision not to show Colts

David Hughes
Tribune-Star Correspondent

TERRE HAUTE — When your favorite NFL team is threatening to finish 0-16, you have to figure a few fans will jump off the bandwagon.

But most true fans, such as myself, expect to see the Indianapolis Colts on local television whenever they play on Sundays, regardless of their record.

Unless you had access to satellite TV last Sunday, you weren’t able to watch the Colts vs. Carolina Panthers game. It obviously wasn’t a matchup of great teams, but the Panthers’ 27-19 victory proved entertaining nonetheless.

I caught it on DirecTV’s “NFL Sunday Ticket” package at home or else I would not have known that. To my surprise, the contest was not shown on WTHI-TV’s Fox station (Channel 11 on Time Warner Cable).

Instead, WTHI’s Fox station aired the Chicago-Oakland game, which kicked off at 4:05 p.m. When Carolina vs. Indianapolis started at 1, the station showed paid programming.

So was this a case of WTHI jumping off the Colts’ bandwagon?

You decide.

I called WTHI-TV vice president/general manager Todd Weber this week and he acknowledged the decision not to telecast the Panthers-Colts game was made locally.

Before going into his explanation, keep in mind that only one of the two networks with Sunday afternoon NFL rights — CBS (AFC) and Fox (NFC) — can show a doubleheader each week. That means the other network is limited to one game for each of its affiliates.

Last Sunday was CBS’ turn to have the doubleheader, so Fox affiliates needed to choose one game to telecast.

WTHI’s Fox station chose the Bears over the Colts. Ordinarily

Ordinarily, Colts games appear on CBS because they are an AFC team. But when teams from different conferences play each other, the telecast goes to the network that normally carries the visiting team — which in this case was Carolina (Fox).

Weber mentioned that was a factor in WTHI’s decision.

“Fox is an NFC network and the Bears are an NFC team,” he said. “And that [Chicago vs. Oakland] game had playoff implications.”

It should be noted that Fort Wayne’s Fox affiliate, WISE, also decided to bump the Colts in favor of the Bears. That’s a little more understandable, considering how close Fort Wayne is to Chicago.

WXIN, the Fox affiliate in Indianapolis, showed the Colts, as expected.

WTHI, best known for its popular Terre Haute CBS affiliate that debuted in the 1950s, took over local Fox television programming on a separate station Sept. 1.

Weber admitted that last Sunday was a “no-win situation” for both of its stations.

“You’re going to make some viewers happy and some viewers upset,” he said. “This is going to happen from time to time. In this scenario, you have to pick and choose.”

Even though I noticed several people on Facebook voicing their disappointment about not getting the Colts game last Sunday, Weber insisted that he did not receive many complaints.

To be fair, I must point out that WTHI plans to air the Indianapolis vs. New England clash on its CBS affiliate (Channel 10, which can be found on Channel 12 on Time Warner Cable) at 1 p.m. this coming Sunday. That means Kansas City vs. Chicago — a CBS game because the AFC’s Chiefs are the visitors — will not be shown in Terre Haute.

Hey, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots might try to put up 70 points on the Colts. It could get real ugly, but that’s still the game I want to see.

After all, I live in Terre Haute, which is still located in Indiana the last time I checked.


n Off the mark — I usually enjoy NFL analyst Mark Schlereth’s appearances on ESPN. But I thought he was a bit harsh when bashing Terre Haute’s Steve Weatherford, a punter for the New York Giants, in his “Off the Mark” segment earlier this week.

This isn’t a direct quote — because I was home and not expecting to hear this — but Schlereth’s rant went something like: “You’re not an athlete! You’re a punter! I don’t care if you could dunk a basketball in high school!”

Schlereth was upset that Weatherford tried unsuccessfully to run for a first down against the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.

Maybe Weatherford should have punted instead of trying to run — who knows? — but I disagree with Schlereth that Weatherford isn’t an athlete. Schlereth should try working out with him in the gym sometime.

Speaking of workouts, Weatherford is featured in the December issue of “Men’s Health” magazine. If you haven’t seen the photos yet, our boy is ripped.

There’s also a great story about Weatherford’s exercise/diet routine — written by Sam Borden — on the New York Times’ website.

David Hughes can be reached after 4 p.m. by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at