Allbritton Communications has inked a new long-term retrans/carriage deal with Comcast involving both its stations in Comcast markets and its News Channel Eight Washington-area regional news network.
"After many, many months of negotiation we have a long-term arrangement for six of the seven Allbritton stations (the six in Comcast markets) and a long-term affiliation agreement for continued carriage of NewsChannel 8 in Washington," said Allbritto executive Jerald Fritz.
Both agreements were up in 2012, but Fritz said that they negotiated an early continuance. He would not discuss terms, though he did say that it was a fair deal and that he was "happy with the money that we got." He also said that an exclusivity provision had been eliminated that will free NewsChannel 8 to sign agrreements with satellite operators Dish and DirecTV.
Allbritton had cited the inability to come to an agreement on a new carriage deal, and Comcast's desire to combine the stations and news channel carriage renewals, in its criticism of the Comcast/NBCU joint venture, which was approved by the FCC this week. Allbritton had complained that tying the news channel and station renewals devalued the former. That tying, it argued, "will devalue subscriber fees paid for NewsChannel 8 by spreading those fees over retransmission consent rates for Allbritton's unrelated broadcast stations in distant markets and in other states.
According to Fritz, the two deals will remain separate. "They were not packaged together," he said, which eliminates the concerns Allbritton expressed in the Comcast/NBCU deal docket, he added.
"We are delighted with the deal. It met all of our concerns. We're delighted to have Comcast's continued commitment to local news. They have been a great partner and will continue to be a great partner. "
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