The subject has been raised now on a series of quarterly conference calls by television groups. What will happen if the networks demand a share in the retransmission consent cash that affiliates are now getting from cable MSOs? The answer from Nexstar CEO Perry Sook added some perspective to the entire issue.
“I can tell you that there’s been some noise, but there really hasn’t been any substantive discussion. Look, we pay most of the networks some level of support for NCAA Basketball, NFL Football, Olympics – supporting the AP newsgathering organization – and so I think it’s all about how much we agree to contribute and, you know, the tension is that they want us to pay more, we want to pay less. Those discussions have been going on since 1995, basically,” Sook said in answer to a question from a major money manager.
“We negotiated for this revenue. It’s on the strength of our own local stations. In Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania there are three NBC affiliates on the local cable system. We are being paid to be carried there, so to me the value was obviously in our local programming every bit as much, if not substantially more than whatever network programming we carry,” the CEO noted.
“I am very interested in having discussions with the networks about partnerships – things that we can do together to share in the revenue. But just coming with your hand out is not really a business proposition that I’m interested in at all,” Sook said.
“We have been successful in negotiating for this revenue and I think we’ll be successful in keeping it. Again, I think that the value proposition that we have talked to the networks about, and I think others have as well, is let’s find ways that we can do things together and share in revenue, but we don’t see this as a zero-sum game,” he concluded.
RBR/TVBR observation: Everything is negotiable. But, as Sook noted, the best solution is to find ways to work together to generate new revenues. Then everybody makes money and everybody is happy.
“Just say no to sharing retrans booty” – comments by Gray Television President Bob Prather
“Barrington hunkers down” – comments by Barrington CEO Jim Yager