Originally Posted by fredfa The Business of TelevisionComcast, Sinclair Reach Retrans Deal
By Mike Farrell MultiChannel News
With barely one day to spare, Comcast and Sinclair Broadcast Group reached a retransmission-consent agreement for Sinclair stations representing about 3.4 million of the cable operator's subscribers Friday.
While terms of the deal were not disclosed, Comcast said it did not pay cash for the right to carry Sinclair's television signals.
Comcast has achieved its objective of not paying cash for broadcast carriage that would need to be passed on to our customers, executive vice president David Cohen said in a prepared statement. Consistent with our existing agreement with Sinclair and all of our other retransmission-consent agreements, comparable value is being exchanged.
The four-year deal -- it expires March 1, 2011 -- also calls for Comcast to carry digital-multicast channels Sinclair is currently broadcasting in Richmond, Va., and Baltimore, as well as certain other multicast channels in Comcast markets that the stations may broadcast in the future.
And the new deal involves advertising and co-marketing agreements, including Web opportunities, as well as advertising and cross-promotion opportunities on both companies' properties.
We have always been willing to discuss exchanges of value with broadcasters, Cohen said in an interview. Those exchanges of value vary from deal to deal. We have had with Sinclair an existing exchange of value where we're paying cash but receiving marketing and advertising benefits back from Sinclair that are of comparable value to the payments we're making. We were able to make a deal consistent with that model.
Comcast's existing deal with Sinclair was set to expire March 10. If the two parties hadn't reached an agreement, Comcast was in danger of losing the right to carry Sinclair's 37 stations in 23 markets -- mostly affiliates of Fox, MyNetworkTV and The CW -- in markets such as Baltimore; Pittsburgh; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.; Nashville, Tenn.; Richmond, Va.; and Tampa. Fla.
Cable operators across the country were keeping a close eye on the negotiations. Sinclair -- just off a three-month battle with midsized cable operator Mediacom Communications, where Mediacom agreed to pay an estimated 40-50 cents per subscriber, per month for stations representing about 50% of its total footprint -- has been one of the more aggressive station groups pressing for cash for retransmission consent. Several operators have said in the past that if Comcast agreed to pay cash for the Sinclair signals, it would represent a paradigm shift in retransmission-consent negotiations.
Operators apparently have dodged that bullet for now.
I think you can draw a deeper line in the sand, Cohen said. Those who would say that there is a sea change occurring in retransmission consent are premature in their assessment.
While terms were not disclosed, Sinclair had more to lose in a protracted battle with the nation's largest cable operator. Sinclair stations represented just 15% of Comcast's total 24.2 million-subscriber footprint, while the Comcast markets accounted for more than 30% of Sinclair's total advertising revenue. In addition, Comcast carries another Fox station in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., market, so losing Sinclair's Baltimore Fox affiliate would have had little effect on the cable operator.http://www.multichannel.com/article/...=Breaking+News