CBS Gets Cash in Retrans Deal

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CBS Corp. announced it has reached retransmission consent agreements with nine cable operators, covering over a million subscribers. The deals cover analog, digital, multicast and high-definition rights to CBS programming. A CBS Corp. spokesperson declined to name the operators, citing a confidentiality agreement.

As has been previously reported, CBS has sought 50 cents a subscriber in past dealings with cable operators and Verizon FiOS. A source familiar with the negotiations suggested that the new CBS deals are close to that figure. Well-sourced Wall Street speculation is that none of the deals were for less than 50 cents a sub, and some were for more.

According to the investment firm UBS, if CBS received 50 cents a subscriber, the deals spell a $6 million windfall for CBS.

That may explain why none of the cable operators wanted to be identified in the press release announcing the deals. Time Warner Cable, Comcast and Cox are not among the nine, top 25  operators included in the new deals, which are primarily midsized systems.

The retrans issue is picking up steam of late. Station group Northwest Broadcasting Corp.

battled with Time Warner recently 

over retrans, while Sinclair

faced off

with cable operator Mediacom

earlier this month.

The American Cable Association, which represents midsized systems, has complained that broadcasters are getting an unfair advantage in retrans deals, saying his members wind up paying more than big operators like Time Warner.

CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie

Moonves

, who’s long pushed for retransmission payments, hinted at future retrans battles. “Clearly there is a new paradigm in the marketplace—one that recognizes the value of the content that we bring to our various audiences,” said Moonves. “This is a trend that bodes well for us going forward as future retransmission deals are negotiated.”

Last March, Moonves told Wall Street that CBS will eventually get "hundreds of millions of dollars" from retrans deals as more cable systems start paying for its marquee programming..
The CBS Corp. spokesperson acknowledged that more showdowns will follow. --John Eggerton contributed to this report.

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