Officials for E.W. Scripps Co. and ABC on Wednesday morning announced they have signed a five-year deal covering 10 Scripps television stations—including WRTV-TV Channel 6 in Indianapolis.
Financial terms of the deal, which makes those Scripps stations ABC affiliates through December 2019, were not disclosed.
WRTV’s previous deal with ABC was set to end Dec. 31, which led to speculation that WISH-TV Channel 8, which will lose its CBS affiliation to WTTV-TV Channel 4 at the end of this year, might try to partner with ABC.
The WRTV-ABC deal means WISH will have to make a go of it as an independent programmer for the foreseeable future.
At a time of much tumult in the local TV market, WRTV officials said the long-term ABC deal is a major milestone. The Scripps-ABC pact is on the long side, with many affiliation agreements running three years.
WRTV referred questions about the new deal to Scripps officials.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with ABC that reaffirms our long-standing partnership dating back to the 1940s,” Brian Lawlor, senior vice president of television for Scripps, said in a statement. “The continued success of ABC’s primetime shows along with the strength of ABC News is the perfect match to our strong local news and digital brands.”
WRTV, which was owned by McGraw-Hill Cos. until it was purchased by Scripps in December 2011, has been an ABC affiliate since 1979.
About a decade ago, there was a major paradigm shift in the broadcasting industry that has often made subsequent network-affiliate negotiations tense.
Before the early 2000s, the networks usually paid affiliates to carry their programming. Then networks—realizing the affiliates were getting paid by cable TV companies to retransmit their shows—began demanding affiliates pay them. Industry sources said those types of demands caused negotiations to break down earlier this year between WISH owners and CBS executives.
Scripps and ABC appear to be pleased to have this round of negotiations behind them.
“Scripps is one of the largest owners of ABC affiliates, and we look forward to continuing our long-time collaboration with them,” John Rouse, senior vice president of affiliate relations for ABC, said in a statement.