TV Networks vs. Stations Retrans Battle Brewing

The battle between TV networks and their affiliates for retransmission dollars could be heating up. Perry Sook, the outspoken chairman, president and CEO of Nexstar Broadcasting said Wednesday (Nov. 11) that retransmission dollars belonged to the stations, not the networks.

“I don’t understand why [the TV networks] think they would have a right to some of the revenue stream we developed,” Sook said during the company’s third quarter earnings call. “With all due respect to the networks, network programming is not the main reason we are receiving compensation; it’s the local programming.”

Earlier this week, Bob Prather, president and chief operating officer for Gray Television, called for the TV industry to form a “united front” to TV networks angling for a percentage of station retransmission revenue.

Although none of Nexstar’s network affiliation deals are up any time soon, Sook did add he’d be willing to share if the networks could negotiate better deals on behalf of the affiliates.

Nexstar’s third quarter revenue was down 14 percent to $60.4 million in third quarter, partially offset by retransmission revenue, which was up more than 27 percent to $7.9 million. Year-to-date, Nexstar reported $22.5 million in retransmission revenue.

Like other TV groups, Nexstar is optimistic that traditional TV ad spending is stabilizing as the end of the year approaches. “We’re anticipating recovery of core advertising revenue. Ford has already bought packages for the Olympics,” Sook said.