A marathon Vegas meeting between the Fox affiliates and the network's key executives saw the station folks vent their concerns about what they deem to be onerous reverse compensation fees. The meeting ran close to four hours, and by some estimates around 40% of it was dedicated to give and take over sizeable fees tied to stations' affiliation agreements.
Fox is demanding 25 cents per subscriber from affiliates in markets 1-125 in the first year of the deal, climbing to 50 cents by the fourth year. Fox affiliates in smaller markets follow a relatively less expensive rate card. Fox president of affiliate sales and marketing Mike Hopkins fielded question after question on the topic from affiliates who felt the fees would seriously drain their cash flow. After Hopkins held the hard line amidst such barrage, one affiliate noted, "This guy's got ice water in his veins."
The meeting was much anticipated by industry watchers, as the row between Fox and its affiliates got nasty-and went public-in recent months. Both sides seemed determined to keep the negotiations out of the press, and to show a united front in Vegas amidst their differences.