Affils sop up Eye’s dribble in hoop deal

Affiliate agreement calls for 'exchange of value'

NEW YORK — After months of discussions, CBS announced Monday that its affils have agreed to share the cost of the net’s $6.2 billion NCAA basketball deal over the next decade.

The Eye cut one of the most expensive sports deals in TV history when securing the rights to air the “March Madness” basketball tourney through 2014. Net immediately turned around and asked its affils to contribute almost $300 million in cash and inventory exchange, citing ever-increasing sports licensing fees.

CBS said the much-needed affiliate agreement calls for a “broad exchange of value,” including commercial spots and cash contributions. Specific terms and length were not disclosed.

“We are very pleased to have reached this fair and equitable agreement with our affiliate partners, securing the long-term broadcast of another valuable sporting event on the public airwaves,” CBS chair-CEO Leslie Moonves said.

Eye execs and affils have been meeting for months on the issue, with affiliates taking their time before signing off on any agreement.

“The negotiations were lengthy, but ultimately both parties listened to and delivered on the needs of the other, guaranteeing the future of one of the most exciting sporting events of the year on CBS stations for many years to come,” said Bob Lee, chair of the CBS Affiliates Advisory Board and prexy-general manager at WDBJ Roanoke, Va.

CBS affils have helped the net defer the cost of sports before. The stations continue to help out on the Eye’s expensive NFL package in exchange for certain program exclusivity guarantees.

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