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ABC Proposes Pact With Affiliated Stations on Programming, Costs

October 03, 2002|MEG JAMES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ABC said Wednesday that the network has proposed a two-year agreement that calls for its affiliated stations to help pay for "Monday Night Football," while limiting the reuse of ABC programming on Walt Disney Co.'s various cable networks.

Disney's ABC had a three-year pact with its affiliated stations that expired at the end of July. But the two sides continued to meet to hammer out contentious issues such as "repurposing" ABC shows, or repeating programs on cable within days of their initial network broadcast. This has been a major part of Disney's strategy to promote ABC Family, the cable network that Disney acquired last year.

Affiliate station groups must now individually approve the agreement with the network. ABC affiliates include Hearst-Argyle Television, Scripps Howard Broadcasting, Cox Broadcasting and Belo Corp. The ABC affiliate board represents 35% of the affiliated station groups and does not include ABC-owned stations.

The stations agreed to pay $34 million a year to help ABC cover its unprofitable National Football League contract, which costs the network an average of $550 million a year. Stations in larger markets also agreed to pick up a greater share of the costs to help smaller market stations, one source said. ABC's "Monday Night Football" contract is in the sixth year of an eight-year contract.

The two sides "took a comprehensive look at our relationship," said ABC network President Alex Wallau. "Getting language that we could all agree on was the challenge. But the fact that we did get a deal done was very good for both of us."

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