CBS brass to huddle with affils over compensation

CBS exex and members of the network’s affiliate board will meet tomorrow in Chicago in an attempt to end the ongoing dispute over network compensation, which flared up earlier this year when the network announced it would slash $ 25 million from the amount it pays to affiliates for carrying its programming.

The hastily called meeting is the latest stab at settling the disagreement and putting an end to affils’ growing animosity toward the web.

Tony Malara, president of CBS affiliate relations, confirmed that a meeting would be held tomorrow, but declined to discuss the issue further, citing an agreement not to characterize the talks.

CBS announced last spring that it planned to cut its total compensation pool by $ 25 million. The new comp plan called for stations in the largest TV markets to lose 25% of their annual compensation, with those in smaller markets seeing comp cut by a smaller percentage. In addition to the compensation, CBS said it would hold back some advertising time in its morning program and on weekends.

“The response from stations I’ve talked to,” said an affiliate exec who requested anonymity, “was this offer better be good.” The exec added that the meeting could be the first break in the dispute.

From the moment the new comp plan was announced, affiliates have complained loudly and threatened to increase preemptions, which is a dirty word in the network TV business. Moreover, affils in Texas and in the Midwest have banded together in attempts to create programming consortiums to buy programming and news to be used to preempt network programs.

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