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CBS Sets Affiliation Renewal Deal with Lin Media Following Indianapolis Switch

Two weeks after sparring over a deal in the Indianapolis market, CBS has come to terms with Lin Media on a new affiliation pact covering 12 stations.

CBS called it a “comprehensive” pact covering Lin’s Eye affils in Albuquerque, N.M., Buffalo, N.Y., Birmingham, Ala., Portland, Ore., Providence, R.I., and seven other mid-sized markets.

“We are gratified that the full value of that CBS programming has been recognized,” said Ray Hopkins, CBS’ president of television networks distribution. “We look forward to reaching LIN’s more than 4 million households for years to come.”

CBS’ new pact with Lin stations undoubtedly includes a hefty amount of reverse compensation, or fees that the station group will pay the network in exchange for the high-end sports and entertainment programming. Network-caliber programming gives local stations more clout in cutting retransmission consent pacts with local MVPDs, and as the retrans gusher has increased during the past few years, networks are demanding a bigger cut from their affiliate stations.

SEE ALSO: CBS’ Hardball Move in Indianapolis Draws Wall Street’s Attention

CBS and Lin battled over a renewal of Lin’s Indianapolis station WISH-TV, prompting the Eye to strike a deal to move its affiliation to the Tribune-owned outlet in the market as of Jan. 1. That move was a signal to other affiliates — and to Wall Street — that the network was willing to disrupt the status quo in order to secure the reverse comp revenue that it has promised Wall Street.

The loss of Lin’s CBS’ affiliation in Indianapolis forced the company to make an amendment on Aug. 20 to its planned merger with station group Media General because the value of the station dropped.

CBS has repeatedly told the Street that it expects to rake in $2 billion in retrans and reverse comp coin by 2020. The network has been in the midst of setting long-term affiliation renewals with its more than 200 affils around the country. On Monday, the Eye announced a deal with Gray Television covering 26 stations in mid-size markets such as Knoxville, Tenn. and Fargo, N.D.

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