NBC and its affiliates have worked out the framework of an arrangement that would see the network handle retransmission consent negotiations with subscription-TV providers on behalf of its partner stations.
The bulk of the pact, which has been worked on off and on for the past two years, was ironed out at the affiliate board meeting May 16 in New York, the day of NBC's upfront presentation.
The "proxy" deal would be optional for affiliates. NBC called it "another step toward further solidifying the partnership" between the network and its affiliates.
Affiliates that opt in would hand over "proxy rights" to retrans negotiations to the network. NBC affiliates board chairman Brian Lawlor described it as a one of a kind arrangement. in broadcast television "It's a brand new kind of deal," he said following the upfront presentation. "It completely changes the network-affiliate model."
Indeed, the other major networks do not have a blanket deal with affiliates regarding retrans. Such a deal eluded Fox and its affiliates board several months ago, and set the course for at times bitter negotiations between the network and its affiliates regarding the splitting of retrans cash as part of affiliation agreements. Last week, Fox announced it was parting ways with two affiliates, the divorce stemming from unmet retrans demands.
Fox is demanding affiliates come up with specific payment amounts per pay-TV subscriber, which escalate each year. A critical difference with the NBC deal is that NBC wants a percentage of affiliates' retrans earnings, as opposed to demanding a particular dollar amount, such as 25 cents per subscriber. Some NBC affiliates called it a more advantageous arrangement for them.
In a statement, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said, "The proxy concept we are working on as partners is a thoughtful and beneficial way of working together on retransmission consent."