It took a few days, but details have emerged about the hard-fought retransmission consent pact that Fox and Time Warner Cable signed on New Year’s Day after marathon negotiations.
Initial speculation had the deal as topping out at a monthly fee of about 60¢ per subscriber for the nine Fox O&Os carried by Time Warner systems in nine major markets, including Gotham and L.A. (Daily Variety, Jan. 4). But informed sources say that the five-year deal calls for Time Warner to shell out more than 75¢ per sub a month by the end of the deal term. Fox started out seeking $1 per sub in a bold bid to help shore up the shaky economics of the broadcast network biz and gain parity with top-tier basic cable channels.
The Fox-Time Warner deal also involved new carriage agreements for Fox-owned cablers FX, Speed, Fuel and a clutch of regional sports cablers, and sources cautioned that the retrans fees involve a host of considerations for those nets as well as for the Fox network affils. Still, a fee of 75¢-plus by 2015 is better than many biz observers thought Fox could command in this retrans go-round. And the Fox-Time Warner deal is considered to be a key benchmark for a slew of retrans deals to come for broadcast TV station owners in the next few years. The ABC O&Os, for one, have their retrans pact with Time Warner set to expire at year’s end.
Reps for Fox and Time Warner declined to comment.