Affiliates Pony Up for MNF

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The majority of ABC affiliates have approved a new four-year agreement with the network that calls for stations to ante up more for ABC’s Monday Night Football package. The Network Affiliate Plan, the third such deal between ABC and its affiliates, is an addendum to stations’ individual affiliation agreements.

ABC wanted more help paying for the hefty $500 million-per-year contract, which expires after the 2005-2006 season, while stations, understandably, were balking at upping their contribution.

The new deal, called NAP3, appears to be a compromise: ABC is getting a financial contribution from stations and assurances on clearances.

Stations will get additional advertising and promotional inventory in prime time. The deal renewed a previous agreement on repurposing that allows ABC to continue repurposing its prime time programs off-network, but only after certain numbers of hours and days. "It allows us to feel secure we have live, exclusivity for our product," says Deb McDermott, chairman of the ABC Television Affiliates Association and president of Young Broadcasting.

The affiliate group’s Board of Governors approved the pact in October and member stations have recently given it the OK. The plan is retroactive to Aug. 2004 and runs through July 2008.

"This new agreement provides a contractual framework to further strengthen our core businesses and build a generation of mutually beneficial opportunities," Anne Sweeney, president of Disney-ABC’s Television Group, said in a statement.

It will run through 2008 only if ABC re-ups with the NFL. Says McDermott, "If they do a renewal on MNF, they know that we are in there with them." The network has not yet struck a deal for its NFL rights past the 2006 Super Bowl, which it is airing, and the NFL is seeking a healthy increase, repoportedly to as much as $700 million a year.

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