ABC Sets the Stage For Soap Network

Paving the way for a new 24-hour cable soap-opera channel
and for network programming to rerun on cable, ABC reached an agreement with its affiliate
board last week that gives the TV stations an undisclosed stake in the new network and
sets guidelines for repurposing ABC programs.

Under the three-year deal, ABC affiliates get eight
additional primetime ad spots per week from the broadcast network in exchange for paying
$45 million per year during the term of the deal to offset the costs of the National
Football League's Monday Night Football.

As for ABC's soap-opera channel, set to launch in January,
affiliates will "participate" based on whichever is greater -- "a
subscriber formula or net profit participation" -- according to a prepared statement
from ABC.

Regarding the "subscriber formula," an ABC
spokeswoman said this means TV stations can opt for an undisclosed percentage of
cable-subscriber revenue based on the number of subscribers the soap-opera channel gets in
their DMAs, or they can choose to get part of the channel's profits.

In exchange, ABC will get immediate repurposing rights for
its daytime soaps. The soap-opera channel plans to repeat ABC soaps such as All My
and General Hospital in primetime the same day after they run in the
afternoon on the broadcast network.

The new ABC affiliate deal also sets repurposing guidelines
for all programming, from entertainment series to news and sports.

These options permit the broadcast network to reair shows
on its fellow The Walt Disney Co. siblings: wholly or partially Disney-owned cable
channels ESPN, Lifetime Television, A&E Network, The History Channel and Disney

By keeping within the guidelines, ABC could also choose to
use its own shows as programming for its digital spectrum.

Under the new affiliate deal, ABC can repurpose
entertainment series 180 days after they air or at the end of the season -- whichever is
earlier -- but no sooner than 90 days after the original airing.

All in all, ABC will be free to repurpose up to 25 percent
of its primetime entertainment shows with no restrictions.

In terms of sports programs, ABC can't repurpose them in
their entirety until at least 48 hours after the end of their original airing on the

ABC will have unlimited and immediate repurposing rights
for breaking news, but it must wait 60 days to repurpose its newsmagazine shows.

In a joint press release, ABC and the ABC Television
Affiliates Association board of governors said they were starting to submit the proposal
to ABC's affiliates last week via regional conference calls.

Officials expect to know by the end of July whether or not
enough affiliates have signed off on the proposal.