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LIN TV and MetroCast Reach Retrans

LIN TV Corp. and MetroCast reached a retrans agreement this week after protracted wrangling that nearly resulted in stations being dropped from cable systems reaching 36,000 subscribers. The deal will assure continued carriage of LIN stations WTNH News Channel 8 and WCTX MYTV9 in New Haven, and WPRI, the Fox affiliate in Providence, R.I., where LIN TV headquarters are located.
The previous contract between the two ended Oct. 7. Published reports indicate LIN was angling for retrans fees, but the dollar amount per subscriber per month was not disclosed.
By mid-September, LIN issued a press release warning that negotiations were not going well. The statement boiled down a common sentiment among broadcasters.
“Ironically,” it said, “LIN TV does not get paid while niche cable programmers are paid millions of dollars each year by MetroCast. During the past year, LIN TV has made numerous attempts to reach an agreement with MetroCast without success.”
It wasn’t for lack of offers from MetroCast, its chief told the trade press last month. The two managed to meet in the middle before MetroCast was forced to drop the station signals.
Broadcasters, led mostly by Sinclair in Hunt Valley, Md., just started pursuing retrans fees in the past couple of years as cable operators used hi-def channels as a hook for luring subscribers to more expensive digital tiers. A report from Wachovia Capital Markets earlier this year estimated that retrans fees could generate as much as $100 million in revenue for Sinclair and from $38 million to $62 million for LIN TV.
Sinclair reported this week in its third-quarter results the retrans fees helped it offset a $19.3 million dip in political ad spending from the same period last year. LIN said it would report its Q3 results Nov. 1.
In other LIN news, 28-year company veteran Larry Oaks was bumped up to vice president of information technology. He was previously director of engineering.