Just say no to sharing retrans booty


That’s the reaction of Gray Television President/COO Bob Prather to a question about whether networks will want to grab a share of the retransmission consent cash now being collected from cable operators. And he’s hopeful the entire television affiliate community will stand united. 

During Friday’s quarterly conference call, a money manager asked what Gray’s position was going to be if its networks sought a share of retrans payments when affiliation agreements come up for renewal.

“We’re going to just say no, as Nancy Reagan used to say. I think they’re going to try and we’re going to say no, and I hope we can get our industry to where they all realize that this retrans is hard-fought money for us and we need to keep all of it,” Prather responded.

“NBC tried to get some from us last year. We said no, no, no and they basically agreed to renew the contract for three or four years like it was. They’re all cutting back to 3-5 year deals, nobody’s doing any 10-year deals right now on either side,” Prather said. In his view, keeping 100% of retrans is an issue where affiliates really have to draw a line.

Prather said he’d heard of networks seeking a percentage of retrans from broadcasters in several markets, but as far as he’s heard no affiliate has actually agreed to those terms.

“I think it’s just a battle we’re going to have to fight. I think it’s something that our industry needs – I think the NAB needs and all our affiliate groups need to be on the same page,” Prather emphasized.

RBR/TVBR observation: Given that the NAB has had some success in getting the networks back in the fold after the split over ownership caps, we doubt that the organization will want to take sides in this fight. However, Prather is on the right track in trying to get the affiliate organizations to put up a united front. At least, he’s right from the point of view of the affiliates.