Retrans fight dominates Fox affil sesh

CW also gathers with stations at NAB confab

Fox and its affiliates faced off over retransmission consent fees during a closed-door meeting Tuesday at the National Assn. of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas.

The sesh gave vent to the long-simmering issue over how to fairly divide revenues between the network and its member stations.

In February, the standoff escalated when the network indicated that it was giving up on an effort to negotiate with the affiliate board to strike a deal that would cover all stations.

While subjects at the four-hour meeting ranged from the potential for an NFL lockout to the fall launch of “X Factor,” the retrans revenue-sharing issue was reportedly the biggest sticking point, although there are indications that Fox is making progress in cutting deals with individual owners.

Other Fox execs in attendance included Peter Rice, chairman of entertainment, Fox Networks Group; Kevin Reilly, president of entertainment at Fox Broadcasting; and Mike Darnell, president of alternative programming at Fox Broadcasting.

Fox execs and the affiliate board did their best to put the best face on the strains between them in a pair of statements issued late Tuesday.

“Meeting with our local affiliates once again reaffirmed just how valuable our partnership is to Fox and to each of their local communities,” said Mike Hopkins, president, Fox Networks Affiliate Sales and Marketing.

“We appreciate the opportunity that Fox gave us to voice our questions and concerns today, and we’re grateful for their ongoing dedication to quality,” said Brian Brady, chairman of the Fox Affiliate Board.

The CW held its own affil confab Wednesday at NAB. The 45-minute session featured research on CW’s place in the TV marketplace; dialogue on CW-related issues was relegated to one-on-one meetings with John Maatta, chief operating officer and general counsel, and Elizabeth Tumulty, executive VP, distribution.

The network has yet to announce who its entertainment president will be when Dawn Ostroff steps down at the end of the season, though former ABC Studios chief Mark Pedowitz is believed to be getting the job.

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