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Broadcast networks will rake in retransmission fees, report says

Programmers and professional sports leagues may start salivating after reading a report on all the money the broadcast television networks are expected to get in the next few years from distributors and their own affiliates.

According to consulting firm SNL Kagan, the networks — Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC, CW and Univision — will take almost $3 billion in 2015 in money tied to so-called retransmission consent fees that distributors such as cable and satellite companies pay broadcasters to carry their signals.

Of that amount, the distributors are expected to pay $1.7 billion directly to the networks for programming on network-owned local stations, Kagan estimates. The broadcast networks also will get $1.3 billion in 2015 as their cut of fees that the distributors will pay network affiliates, Kagan says.

Among the networks, News Corp.'s Fox has been the most aggressive in collecting revenue from retransmission fees. Kagan estimates that this year Fox will take in $257 million in such revenue from distributors plus $39 million from Fox affiliates. By 2015, Kagan predicts, those numbers will grow to $459 million and $341 million, respectively.

NBC has the most to gain from retransmission fees. In 2011, Kagan has NBC getting only $16 million in fees for the stations it owns and just $5 million from its affiliates. By 2015, Kagan predicts NBC will be getting $263 million for its stations (including Telemundo) and $288 million from affiliates.

Distributors have been griping for some time about rising retransmission consent fees and have even requested that the Federal Communications Commission weigh in with new rules over how deals are negotiated. Broadcasters are resisting such a regulatory effort.

— Joe Flint

 
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