Iger: Affiliates' Retrans Payments Will Grow


ABC affiliates can expect to kick more of their retransmission consent spoils up to the network, as The Walt Disney Co. president/CEO Bob Iger told a room full of investors that the company seeks to grow its retransmission-consent pot at their expense.

"The good news is, we've struck some deals already with affiliates to gain access to those fees, and we're in negotiations with other affiliates to continue that strategy," he said at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia confab on Tuesday Sept. 21. "Given the dynamics of the broadcast business and the relationship of the affiliates, we feel we're not only within our rights, but we will get more cash from their retransmission-consent deals."

Networks are increasingly demanding a substantial piece of partner stations' retrans earnings. Some ABC affiliates have privately grumbled at the network's demands, while others have chalked the fees up to the cost of doing business today.

Iger said it's essentially easy money for the network, with no costs involved: "Cash payments for retrans are real, will grow, and there's no incremental cost to get them."

Iger also addressed the issue of "cord-cutting," or dropping a pay-TV subscription to watch shows online, saying he's seen no evidence of the so-called trend, and that Web-connected televisions only spelled more opportunity for Disney's myriad digital ventures, such as ESPN3.

Read more at B&C here.