CBS inks retransmission agreements

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NEW YORK -- CBS Corp. said Thursday that it has signed retransmission consent agreements with nine cable operators nationwide.

CBS declined to reveal the names of the MSOs that signed retransmission agreements, citing confidentiality. It said that several of them were top 25 MSOs and totaled upward of 1 million subscribers. It wasn't any of the largest cable operators, however.

Financial terms of the deals also were not disclosed, though it is believed to be the 50 cents per subscriber that CBS had been seeking from MSOs.

At an investors conference last month in Las Vegas, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves confirmed that the company was in talks with several smaller distributors. CBS was known to be seeking 50 cents per subscriber, similar to the money that CBS received last year in an agreement with Verizon Communication's FiOS fiber-optic TV service.

"Clearly, there is a new paradigm in the marketplace, one that recognizes the value of the content that we bring to our various audiences," Moonves said. "This is a trend that bodes well for us going forward as future retransmission deals are negotiated."

But as the bigger deals expire in 2009 and '10, it's going to be much harder for CBS to get the large MSOs to pay the 50 cents per subscriber.

CBS said the agreements announced Thursday each included analog, digital, multicast and high-definition programming on CBS' O&Os. Those stations include many of the major TV markets, including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco and Dallas, though it's likely that the agreements didn't cover a majority of the bigger markets.
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