Fox's TV station affiliate board has retained legal counsel, a News Corp. source confirms.
The board has hired Dow Lohnes in Washington to handle the "legal, regulatory and policy issues confronting Fox affiliates as well as issues related to the affiliates' relationship with Fox."
That relationship has been testy of late as the stations and network battle over compensation, with Fox renewing some affilation deals and scrapping others. At issue has been the network requiring affiliates pay a programming fee as broadcasters are beginning to collect significant retransmission-consent cash from cable and satellite operators.
"With the ever changing relationship between the Fox Network and its affiliates coupled with the paradigm shift in the industry, the Board felt strongly that it needed legal representation to help navigate the sea change," said affilate board chairman Brian Brady, president of Northwest Broadcasting. "The future of the broadcast industry hinges on a meaningful relationship between the Network and the Affiliates so both can grow and prosper while remaining relevant to the viewer who has more choices today than ever before."
Kevin Latek, an attorney with Dow Lohnes, said that this is the first time the affiliates have had regular FCC counsel in "many years." He says the issue is not just the relationship with its network parent. The board felt that there were a lot of pressures coming at them from a lot of different directions, not just Fox, but changes in the media marketplace and Washington pressure. "They thought it would be advisable to have counsel to navigate that [landscape]."