ABC Offers Free Retrans to O&O Stations

Small cable operators that serve customers within the 10 ABC-owned station markets will not have to pay for the privilege of carrying the signal through 2011, per terms of a unilateral decision announced by the Walt Disney Co. on Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Mouse, 91 of the 113 operators that provide service in the 10 ABC owned-and-operated markets will receive a proposal offering no-fee retransmission-consent for the next three years. Moreover, Disney said that the offer ensures that qualifying operators will not be coerced into carrying any affiliated networks.

The fee-free retrans offer does not apply to major MSOs like Comcast and Time Warner Cable, both of which are prominent in the ABC station markets. The ABC O-&-Os are: WABC-TV in New York; KABC-TV in Los Angeles; WLS-TV in Chicago; WPVI-TV in Philadelphia; KGO-TV in San Francisco; KTRK-TV in Houston; WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; KFSN-TV in Fresno, Calif.; WJRT-TV in Flint, Mich.; and WTVG-TV in Toledo, Ohio.