Skip to main content

TNT: Pay, Or No Hoops for You

Turner Network Television is looking for at least a 2-cent-per-year increase
over at least a five-year period -- and it is threatening to withhold marquee
programming if it doesn't get it -- as part of an initial new rate-card pitch to
operators, several executives have said.

Operators are reporting that TNT, which currently costs around 70 cents per
subscriber, is pitching a 'TNT Plus' package: a five- to six-year agreement that
calls for a rate increase of around 2 cents to 5 cents each year to help
subsidize costs for recent, expensive and high-profile programming

TNT representatives would not comment on the network's negotiations with
cable operators.

TNT's current affiliate deal with several operators expires at year's end.
For operators with long-term carriage deals that extend beyond 2002, TNT hopes
to renegotiate to reflect terms of the TNT Plus agreement.

The network would withhold marquee programming from operators that decide to
remain with the current network deal, sources said.

'Under the new deal, they would have the right to black out some TNT Plus
programming without providing any substitute programming,' one MSO programming
executive said.

Although it's unclear exactly what programs would be subject to blackout,
some operators believe it will most likely include games from the network's new
six-year, $2.2 billion National Basketball Association deal.

Under that pact, TNT will air 52 regular-season games -- most scheduled as
exclusive Thursday-night doubleheaders -- as well as 45 playoff games, including
one conference-final round and both conference-semifinal rounds in their
entirety. TNT, in a cable first, will also air the NBA All-Star Game.

TNT could also choose to withdraw its popular National Association for Stock
Car Auto Racing programming or its slate of upcoming blockbuster film titles.
Just last month, the network nabbed first TV-broadcast rights to hit box-office
movie Spider-Man in a $60 million co-rights deal with Fox Broadcasting