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ABC, Affiliates Come to Terms on NFL, Other Issues

Oct 13, 2004  •  Post A Comment

ABC and the ABC Affiliates Association board of governors made it official Wednesday: They have agreed on a plan that defines how much the ABC affiliates will contribute toward the cost of the network’s $550 million-per-year NFL contract (TelevisionWeek Oct. 11). Now it is up to the affiliates to individually sign off on the plan. The agreement cannot take effect unless stations representing slightly more than two thirds of the country’s TV homes agree, a quorum expected to be achieved easily.

The announcement did not include any details of the Network Affiliate Program III deal, which sources have said would cut the collective affiliates’ assessment from some $34 million per year to $31 million per year for the 2004 and 2005 NFL seasons. For the 2006 and 2007 seasons, assuming ABC and the NFL agree to extend their contract, the affiliates’ contribution would return to close to the $34 million per year they anted up under the two-year NAP II deal.

In return, affiliates are said to retain the seven extra commercial spots per week in prime time, as well as a continuation of the agreement in which the affiliates get a cut of Disney-owned SoapNet subscriber fees in their markets in return for waiving the stations’ exclusivity rights to the network’s daytime dramas.

The announcement said NAP III also continues to provide “guidelines covering repurposed network programs and inventory guarantees.”

“Through the diligent efforts of [governors board Chairman] Deb McDermott and ABC management, there is now a plan in place that enables us all to better meet the challenges of the increasingly complex television landscape,” said Anne Sweeney co-chairman, Media Networks, for The Walt Disney Co. and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, in a statement.

“This new plan is a win-win for both the affiliates and the network,” Ms. McDermott said in her statement.