TV Programming I
Local stations negotiate affiliation contracts
Contracts last 5-10 years: the entire landscape changed when Rupert Murdoch raided
traditional CBS, ABC, NBC affiliates in 1993-94. Prior
to that, networks negotiated new compensation deals every
two years. Murdoch changed the landscape in three ways:
1) by buying controlling interest in 14 key affiliates
in major cities which carried programs of other networks
(Memphis' WHBQ is one example); 2) by investing a minority
interest in at least a dozen other stations, in exchange
for those station groups switching affiliations to Fox;
and 3) offering more compensation to at least 15 other
key stations across the U.S. than other networks would
Networks pay compensation to affiliates to carry programs
Networks expect virtually all of their lineups to be cleared by the local station
- Restrictions placed on pre-emption of network programs
- Networks typically ban a secondary affiliation with another network
- Networks do not compensate affiliates for carrying
expensive sports packages, such as the Super Bowl, World
Series, or NFL Monday Night Football. In fact,
affiliates are now being asked to pay a pro-rated share
of the costs of the pro football rights, which now top $8
Syndication companies are independent
distributors of programming to local stations for non-network
and non-local dayparts. Syndicators act as a type of
middleman broker between program suppliers (producers)
and local stations. Syndicators provide programming in
three scheduling formats:
Syndicated programs are usually in two categories:
- Strips - Programs which air five days a week in
the same time slot, Monday through Friday.
- Weekly or Twice-Weekly - Typically for the non-network
- OTO - Acronym for a one-time-only special (programs
such as Merv Griffin's New Year's Eve).
Syndicated programs are sold under the following licensing terms:
- Off-Network - Programs which have had prior
exposure on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, UPN, or The WB and are
sold as rerun packages to local stations. Shows
such as Cheers, Seinfeld, Home Improvement, or The
Cosby Show are examples of off-network syndicated
series, usually sold as strips after four or five years
of network exposure.
- First-Run - Programs which are having their original
exposure in syndication. Such shows include The Oprah
Winfrey Show, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!,
Hollywood Squares, etc. In prior years, game
shows often had network versions in daytime hours and
separate nighttime syndicated versions.
Leading syndicators and the programs they distribute include:
- Straight cash - Program sold to a local station
strictly for a cash payment. The primary programs sold
today as cash-only deals are evergreens (off-network
programs which typically have had either five years or more
of syndicated exposure, such as M*A*S*H, Cheers,
The Andy Griffith Show, or Perry Mason.
- Cash-plus-barter - The primary method for selling
first-run and recent off-network strips. In this deal,
stations pay a negotiated cash license fee and give the
syndicator a negotiated amount of commercial time to
sell national advertising. In the case of Oprah,
stations give the syndicator five minutes and retain
nine minutes for their own local sales. Wheel of
Fortune is sold on a 1 1/2-4 1/2 split of commercial
sales between syndicator and local station.
- Barter - No cash is exchanged between station and
syndicator. The program is provided free of charge, in
exchange for what is usually an even split of the commercial
time (7/7 in an hour-long show). Programs typically
sold in this fashion are weekend off-network programs,
such as Walker, Texas Ranger or The X-Files,
both of which are packaged as Saturday-Sunday offerings
in reruns for local stations (both series are also sold
to cable networks USA and fx as strips).
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- King World - The top first-run syndicator with rights to
Oprah, Wheel, Jeopardy!, Inside
Edition, and its newest offerings, Hollywood Squares
and The Roseanne Show.
- Studios USA (Universal) - Jerry Springer, Sally
Jessy Raphael, Maury Povich.
- Viacom - Montel Williams, Roseanne
sitcom reruns, and the largest package of evergreens
including The Cosby Show, Andy Griffith, I Love Lucy, Perry Mason,
Rawhide, Gunsmoke, My Three Sons, Family Affair,
Petticoat Junction, Sanford and Son, The Mary Tyler
Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show.
- Warner Brothers - The Rosie O'Donnell Show,
Jenny Jones, Love Connection,
Change of Heart; evergreens such as Murphy Brown
and recent off-network product, such as Friends.
- Columbia TriStar Television - Donny and Marie,
The Newlywed Game, The Dating Game, and
- Twentieth Television (syndication subsidiary of Fox)
- repeats of COPS, Married: with Children,
The Simpsons and Living Single, among
recent off-network product.
- Buena Vista Television (syndication subsidiary of
Disney/ABC) - Regis and Kathie Lee, Debt
(currently being tested in 12 markets), reruns of Home
Improvement, Grace Under Fire, and Boy Meets World.
- Eyemark Entertainment (syndication subsidiary of
CBS/Westinghouse) - Martha Stewart Living, repeats
of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Touched By an
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