“Bend Over, We’re Coming:” A Preview Of FNC’s Carriage-Renewal Conversations

By Brian 

Variety published one of 2006’s (yes, NEXT year’s) most important cable news stories on Sunday night, and no one seemed to notice. This must-read (subscription required, and well worth it) is, to-date, the most comprehensive preview of FNC’s upcoming carriage-renewal negotiations with cable operators. Here are just a few of the many highlights and juicy quotes:

> “One cable-op exec says that at a recent affiliate meeting, Fox Newsies did not discuss terms, but it was easy to discern their attitude toward negotiations. ‘They were polite about it,’ says the exec. ‘But the undertone was clear: Bend over, we’re coming.'”

> If FNC’s rates increase dramatically, ‘I’ll go after CNN and MSNBC,’ says one operator, who gets acid reflux every time he thinks about the pounds of flesh Fox News is planning to extract. ‘If I have to pay more because Fox News is getting more viewers, then I’m sure as hell going to pay less for the lousy ratings of CNN and MSNBC.'”

> One cable operator exec who caught a recent presentation from FNC’s affiliate sales people well in advance of the late-2006 contract renewal date says they stayed away from talking about a specific license fee. Instead, they banged away at the theme of ‘We’re America’s most valuable cable network’ like a monotonous drum.”

> “FNC’s push to jack up its monthly license fees could also be the opening gambit for the much-talked-about Fox-produced business news network…If two or three of the top cable operators rejected analog clearance for a projected biz network, Fox would probably scrap it entirely and go for King Kong-size increases in the rate of FNC.”