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Affils in ABC ‘MNF’ lineup

Majority of the net's affils approve plan

ABC affils have agreed to increase their annual contribution to the “Monday Night Football” till in a move that brings the Alphabet web one step closer to renewing its pact with the NFL.

A majority of the net’s affils has approved the plan, which was endorsed by the affiliate board of governors this fall (Daily Variety, Oct. 14). Under the new four-year plan — the third to be ratified over the past decade by ABC and its affils — stations are believed to be on the hook for $35 million annually.

That payment helps ABC shoulder the $550 million it pays annually in license fees for “Monday Night Football.”

ABC’s pact for “Monday Night Football” expires in October, but the affiliate deal (which is retroactive from August) runs through July 2008. That could be a sign that the net is closer to aggressively edging out rivals such as NBC to hold onto the franchise.

ABC and sib cabler ESPN have so far declined overtures by the NFL to seal a new deal a year early. CBS and Fox jointly fielded $8 billion last month to extend their National Football League broadcast rights for six more seasons (Daily Variety, Nov. 9).

As part of the deal, ABC will be able to continue with certain repurposing rights, while affils have been given more primetime inventory.

New deal was announced by Walt Disney Co. media networks co-chair Anne Sweeney and ABC affiliate chair and Young Broadcasting prexy Deb McDermott, who heads up the net’s affiliates association.

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