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VS. president: 'Not asking for any extra money'

by Adam Kimelman
Versus president Jamie Davis appeared on the NHL Live radio show Friday and discussed the cable network's dispute with DirecTV.

"What [DirecTV officials] wanted to do and what they're insisting on and what they have also not told the public is that they were insisting on a clause that would give them the ability to take Versus away from 6 million existing subscribers by re-tiering it, putting on a different tier and going back and saying 'now if you want to continue getting Versus, which you used to get for free, now you have to pay X dollars more a month,'" Davis said. "That's something we wouldn't accept and that's what this is about."

Davis denied DirecTV's allegations that Versus is asking for more money per subscriber -- a cost the satellite company said it would be forced to pass along to its customers.

"We have an offer to them on the table which is for not one extra penny than what they were paying before, and we're not asking for any extra money or extra distribution," Davis said. "We just wanted to continue on a status-quo deal with no strings attached and they have rejected that."

Davis said he's disappointed by the fact that so many NHL fans have missed out on nearly a month's worth of games, but he said the sides are still working toward a deal.

"The two sides are talking, that's good news," he said. "If there was no dialogue, that would be really, really bad."

Davis said that despite losing the DirecTV outlet for the network, ratings are still extremely high.

"Opening night was the highest-rated opening we ever had," Davis said, "and the game in Boston (Capitals-Bruins, Oct. 1) was the highest-rated ever on the network for a regular-season game. We're up 30 percent-plus on viewership."

Davis said part of his trip to New York was for meetings with NHL officials, including Commissioner Gary Bettman, in a quest to continue finding new ways to engage viewers and build the fan base.

"We're continuing to grow the relationship," Davis said. "[The NHL] and Versus have grown together. Hockey was in a rebuilding stage (in 2005), we were in a brand-new network. Together we've grown together. I meet with the commissioner all the time, and all the key guys -- (Deputy Commissioner) Bill Daly, (Chief Operating Officer) John Collins, finding ways that we can continue to build the experience and make the Versus experience better for all hockey fans."

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