NBC to Handle Retrans Negotiations for Affiliates

By Andrew Gauthier 

NBC is set to offer its affiliates a unique option in the battle for retrans money. The network has worked out a new arrangement with its affiliates in which station groups can opt to have NBC handle retrans negotiations for them.

“The successful completion of this arrangement would be a win for the NBC broadcast network and NBC local stations, both of whom need to develop additional revenue streams to offset the high cost of producing local and national programming and news,” NBC said in a statement.

The so-called “proxy” deal, which was first reported by Broadcasting & Cable, is an effort by NBC to solidify its relationship with affiliates and avoid contentious negotiations with cable companies that have increasingly resulted in blackouts.

Unlike Fox’s recently announced retrans stipulations for its affiliates, which requires stations to pay a fixed rate per subscriber, NBC is proposing that affiliates share a percentage of their retrans earnings.

It’s an arrangement that some NBC-affiliates see as more advantageous, according to B&C.

During carriage negotiations between NBC and its affiliates, the elephant in the room is, of course, Comcast, the largest cable operator in the country.

In its merger deal with NBC, Comcast promised the FCC that it would directly negotiate retrans agreements with NBC-affiliates. However, there is no set rule that definitely prohibits NBC from negotiating on behalf of its affiliates.