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AFFILS CONTINUE TO BALK AT ABC/CBS REQUEST FOR NFL SUPPORT
Published March 11, 1998
While ABC and CBS want their affils to help pay for the new NFL deals, "some of those affiliates want to know what they will get in return -- beyond the rights to the games," according to Stephen McClellan of BROADCASTING & CABLE. McClellan: "The answer is far from clear." Some ABC affils say that "network program exclusivity, a contentious issue ... is among the issues tied to the NFL negotiations." While ABC wants to "cross-pollinate their broadcast and cable outlets with resources, programs and talent," the affils "fear that such cross-pollination will lead to further network audience erosion." Meanwhile, CBS sent a letter to its affils saying the net "expects them to make a 'voluntary' contribution" of $40-50M, "preferably in cash," to help defray the annual $500M NFL pact. CBS said individual station contributions "are intended to be an equal percentage of every station's net revenue from the NFL, regardless of market size or AFC affiliation." That percentage "could be" 30% or more of each station's NFL- derived net revenue. CBS has even hired a "major" N.Y.- based media buyer to calculate revenue estimates for each of its affils. But some affils "virtually rule out cash payments." A "head of one major" group owner: "The real question is: If we start paying for network programming, what do we get in return?" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 3/9).