The Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger told analysts Tuesday that his
company is willing to do battle for increased fees for its broadcast
and cable networks, adding that the media giant also sees upside in
affiliate fees for its ESPN network as well as new opportunities in the
digital delivery of content with Apple Computer's new iPad device.
run some of the best stations in the country," Iger said on the
conference call. "...We think it's time to recognize the value they
provide to distributors and their importance to the local community and
to our viewers in those communities. We believe it would be appropriate
to seek cash for retransmission consent and we believe the same would
be the case for our affiliates. I won't say how much or describe the
discussions we are having with the distribution community, but clearly
there is a trend we are observing that we fully intend to participate
Disney has been aggressive on the retrans front with its
affiliates--late last year Belo Corp., which owns several ABC
affiliates said it would allow Disney to participate in its retrans
haul for those stations.
Iger added that he believes that ESPN,
which attracts the highest affiliate fees of any ad-supported network,
still has upside potential.
"We think our position going into a
new round of negotiations is actually quite solid because of the value
we are generating," Iger said." Distributors do quite well with ESPN,
not just because of the overall value we deliver, but the ads they sell
on local basis are worth a considerable amount. ESPN generates more
advertising revenue than any other channel in the cable universe."
also hinted that Disney could participate in Apple Computer's new iPad
device - some have even see the product as a way to bypass cable and
satellite distributors. Iger didn't go that far, but he called the iPad
a "game changer."