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By PAUL FOY Associated Press Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Frustrated over efforts to get DirectTV and the Dish Network to broadcast Mountain West Conference football games, rivals Brigham Young and Utah are teaming up -- to hire a sports broadcasting lawyer.
Kelly Crabb, who has negotiated Olympic broadcasting deals, was hired to "explore all possible options available so that all our fans have access to the games on television," said University of Utah President Michael K. Young.
It wasn't clear Friday what those options might be. Nobody can force a satellite TV company to broadcast any particular game, officials acknowledged. The satellite providers carry the ESPN sports channel, but that channel covers only selected college games.
Comcast Corp. and CSTV offer MountanWest Sports Network, also known The Mtn., for Mountain West games, "but many places in Utah cannot get cable," said Utah athletics spokeswoman Liz Abel.
Three months from football season, Young and BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson said it wasn't clear if the "distribution problem" would be solved. Abel said they were referring to negotiations between the conference and satellite TV systems.
In a statement, Young and Samuelson said they "find this situation unacceptable."
Conference spokesman Javan Hedlund said those negotiations involve Comcast and its partner CSTV and the satellite providers.
Comcast SportsNet didn't immediately return a call Friday from The Associated Press. Nor did El Segundo, Calif.-based DirectTV.
EchoStar Communications Corp., based in Englewood, Colo., said it doesn't discuss channel negotiations.
Utah fans are upset, and Samuelson said he and Young are asking Crabb to recommend a new course of action.
In a written statement, Kim Carver, vice president and general manager of The Mtn., said the network is "working aggressively to further expand our audience," including through satellite TV.
"We have been patient with efforts to improve distribution for almost a year," said University of Utah President Michael K. Young. "We are now exploring all possible options available so that all our fans have access to the games on television. Utah and BYU are united in our commitment to solving this distribution problem and bringing University of Utah and BYU sports to our fans."
University officials, fans and supporters are frustrated that Mountain West Conference games are not more widely available. Despite repeated assurances over the past year that this distribution problem would be solved shortly, the football season is three months away and adequate distribution is still uncertain. The universities' leaders find this situation unacceptable.
"We've asked Kelly to investigate our situation with the conference's television contract and recommend a new course of action," said BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson. "We are looking forward to weighing Kelly's recommendations and determining the best course of action available to us."
---- On the Net: Mountain West Conference: http://www.themwc.cstv.com
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-06-01-07 1613MDT