SBD/Issue 57/Sports Media

Cox Renews FSN For Six Years; Yearly Rate Hikes At 9-10%

Cox Communications and Fox Cable Networks have entered into a six-year deal to continue carriage of FSN Arizona, FSN South, FSN Southwest, FSN Midwest, FSN Rocky Mountain and FSN West on Cox' standard cable lineup, beginning January 1. The deal covers about 3.3 million Cox customers in Phoenix, Tucson, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Baton Rouge (LA), Omaha, San Diego, Macon (GA), as well as markets in Texas, Kansas, Arkansas and North Carolina (FSN). In L.A., Sallie Hofmeister cites sources as saying that Fox, which was "demanding a 35% increase" for FSN, "will get an average yearly rate increase of about" 9-10%. Fox "also gets distribution for additional channels such as" National Geographic and Fuel (L.A. TIMES, 12/4). Also, sources said that the FSN deal "coincides with a new agreement with Cox for FX" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 12/4).

LOCALLY: Sharon Kleinpeter, a spokesperson for Cox's Baton Rouge operations, said that the agreement "will not result in a rate increase when it takes effect." However, Kleinpeter indicated that in the long term, "routine increases could take place" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 12/4).

ESPN NEXT? Cox' carriage deal with ESPN expires at the end of March, and Merrill Lynch stated in a report yesterday that "questions about ESPN's future revenue and its management stability were helping to weigh down Disney stock." Contracts covering half of ESPN's 87 million HHs "will expire in the next two years, subjecting the company to demands for rate rollbacks" (L.A. TIMES, 12/4).

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