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What Does Fox’s Hardball Move With Affiliates Mean?

May 13, 2011  •  Post A Comment

Fox’s dumping of affiliates this week in the Evansville, Ind., and Boise, Idaho, markets is more a reflection of a changing business model than a warning to other affiliates that they had better play ball with the network, according to a Fox executive who talked to TVNewsCheck.

However, other observers see the moves as a warning that the network is taking a hardline stance, the story says.

“It was not to send a message” to other affiliates, the Fox executive said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “If we can’t come to an agreement with someone, we have to look at something else. … We needed to look at where we could affiliate and that’s what we did.”

As reported previously, Fox shifted its affiliation in Evansville from WTVW to WEVV. In Boise it is replacing KTRV with KNIN. The latter move takes effect around Sept. 1.

A broker familiar with the situation says in the TVNewsCheck piece: “Fox has been looking to sort of flex their muscles, show they mean business, and decided they would pick on two groups they haven’t been able to get a deal with yet. My take is the Fox people said we told you we were going to do this and now we’re doing this: Either come to the table and negotiate or we’re going to slit your throats.”

The Fox executive had a different take: “I would say it’s a challenging time. We’ve got affiliates trying to figure out ways to make things work in the future. We want to help them figure that out. … Our goal is to keep affiliates right where they are. We like the affiliate body right now. But we have to acknowledge the financial realities the network is dealing with. We want to balance that out as soon as possible.”

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