It’s all smiles as ABC, NBC affils huddle

Digital plans continue to evolve

NEW ORLEANS — Conflict was low and camaraderie high as the NBC and ABC affiliates conducted largely stress-free meetings with their respective networks Monday.

NBC Television Network prexy Randy Falco said his network’s affils meeting was issues-oriented, touching on subjects such as digital plans, Olympics coverage and the network’s relationship with Pax TV.

On the latter topic, Falco said he will be sending out a joint memo with Pax chief Bud Paxson to stations about ways to partner with the local Pax outlet in their market.

Paxson has agreed to a six-month exclusive window for NBC affils to negotiate a joint sales arrangement with Pax. Stations may be attracted by the ability to time-shift newscasts on the Pax outlet.

As for digital, Falco said the network’s plans continue to evolve. Besides “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” the network will limit its high definition broadcast lineup to sports events. The NBA All-Star Game will be broadcast in HDTV, and the net is looking at carrying part of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics in high def.

Falco said none of the Sydney Olympics will be covered in HDTV.

Over at ABC, affils crowed, almost in unison, “What a difference a year makes.”

Last year at this time, ABC affils and the network were at odds over issues such as how to pay for NFL football rights. This year, the huge success of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” has station execs smiling.

“They really have earned their right to be hugged and kissed this year,” said Freedom Broadcasting prexy Alan Bell. “It was so bad last year. Everybody, including ABC people, were wondering, ‘How do we get out of this hole?’ ”

Pat Scott, chairman of the affiliates board, said issues such as digital, compensation and the ad inventory partnership with the new Soap Net cable channel are ongoing.

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