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A light broke through long cloudy skies this summer for the Pac-12 when DirecTV was acquired by corporate partner AT&T, seemingly clearing the path for the conference to hammer out a long-awaited distribution deal.

If the Pac-12 has its way, the wait won't be much longer.

The Tribune has learned that informal discussions between the conference and the satellite television provider have reopened since AT&T's deal cleared last month. While talks have been informal and DirecTV is still in a state of transition, the Pac-12 is driving to reach an agreement by Sept. 3, when football season kicks off.

It's unclear whether DirecTV feels the same urgency, but Commissioner Larry Scott, network President Lydia Murphy-Stephans and other Pac-12 officials are pushing for sooner rather than later, according to a source close to the Pac-12.

There are more than 4 million DirecTV subscribers in the seven most populous Western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Pac-12 Networks launched in 2011, and it has never been available on DirecTV.

Utah fans in particular would probably love to see the Pac-12 Networks on DirecTV: The Utes are one of two teams, along with Oregon State, who will be covered on "The Drive," a show that follows teams throughout the season. The episodes air weekly on the network.

Three U.S. senators, including Utah's Orrin Hatch, added their voices to the call for resolution this week in a letter to the Pac-12 and AT&T. The letter, provided to The Tribune by Hatch's office, expressed disappointment that a deal hadn't been reached sooner and asked for the parties to come to terms soon.

"Beyond the burden and frustration placed on our fans in our states who are not able to watch their favorite teams compete," it says, "we are also increasingly concerned about the potential long-term damage to our states' flagship universities, which count on Pac-12 Networks to promote the university, its student athletes and its athletic programs."

Oregon senator Ron Wyden (who attended Stanford and Oregon) and Nevada senator Dean Heller (a USC alumnus) also signed the letter. Hatch is a BYU alumnus, but he has stood up for Utah athletics before — notably calling the Justice Department to investigate potential antitrust-law violations after the Utes were passed over for the national championship game in 2008.

Hatch was not available for immediate comment Thursday afternoon.

The Pac-12 Networks' inability to get on DirecTV has been a thorn in its side since its inception, particularly as the SEC and Big 10 have hammered out network deals that some project will eventually be much more lucrative than the Pac-12's in the future.

Pac-12 Networks is owned by the universities in the conference, as opposed to other models in which conferences partner with bigger media companies. The Pac-12 has enjoyed a greater percentage of its revenues, but some in the industry have speculated that the conference's model gives it less leverage with distributors.

The conference's hope has been renewed by AT&T, which partners with many of the Pac-12 universities and carries the network on its U-Verse property.

Twitter: @kylegoon —

Pressure increases for deal

• Conference officials are trying to reach a deal for distribution on DirecTV before football season.

• AT&T's acquisition of DirecTV has helped restart discussions.

• Three U.S. senators, including Utah's Orrin Hatch, have written to the Pac-12 and AT&T to express their concern.