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It Was Twenty Years Ago Today...

OK, it was actually 20 years ago Sunday, but this story is a fun one to share and to spotlight just how much the relationship has changed between networks and affiliates.

As Fox was courting stations for their affiliation allegience, CBS said it would cough up "any amount of money" to get new affiliates, then-chairman Laurence Tisch told the AP.

Back then, of course, networks paid out big compensation to stations for affiliating. These days, it goes the other way.

CBS was a bit shellshocked after Fox enticed the New World group to change affiliates. Bill Carter wrote that up for the Times back in May 1994.

Tisch made the statement following an affiliates body meeting in Los Angeles days after the New World announcement.

According to the story:

CBS Inc will spend ''any amount of money'' necessary to get new affiliates in the wake of Fox network raids that carried off NFL football and eight affiliates, the company's chairman said Wednesday. CBS Inc. Chairman Laurence A. Tisch made the remarks after representatives from more than 200 stations offered an earful of criticism to the network as they gathered for the three-day annual affiliates meeting.

''We will have good affiliates in every market. We're going to be No. 1 in programming and that's where the battle is fought,'' said Tisch, who described the search for new affiliates in the eight markets as ''a war.''

Noting that CBS has $1 billion in the bank, Tisch said, ''We will spend any amount of money needed.''

Affiliates griped that CBS planned to air made-for-TV movies and ice skating on Sunday afternoons—seeking to attract women as the guys watched football on Fox.

Gary Bolton, then general manager at WROC Rochester, said CBS should increase affiliate compensation.

Writes the AP:

He said the network must increase, not cut, the payments it makes to affiliates—a sum that totaled more than $110 million this year to the 210 CBS stations.

I don't think that went over so well.

I found this while searching for information on William Sullivan, who passed away May 21. Sullivan was CBS affiliates board chairman at the time.