ABC News, NBC News Trade Barbs Over License Fees

By Alex Weprin Comment

In Ad Week, D.M. Levine talks to spokespeople for NBC News and ABC News about ABC’s decision to cut back on paying license fees in exchange for interviews, and neither holds back:

As ABC News moves away from checkbook journalism, its competitors are starting to gloat—and distance themselves from similar practices. “We were happy to hear about this change in ABC News policy,” a spokesperson for NBC News told Adweek. “We agree that their recent activity has been bad for journalism and the news industry. And we welcome them back to the practices that we work hard to uphold.”

An ABC News insider, flabbergasted by the NBC comment, fired back saying, “NBC News lies about its practices, does not disclose the habitual payments it makes for interviews and then has the gall to get up on a high horse. Someone ought to remind NBC News that the higher they get up on that horse, the farther they will fall as their rank and recurring hypocrisy is exposed.”

As we have mentioned, the practice of licensing material in exchange for interviews is not a recent development, nor is it restricted to ABC. Without ABC, the likelihood of a bidding war for stories is diminished. Now it is up to the news organizations to decide whether to really stop the practice, or continue obfuscating.