Being skilled at contracts and the negotiation process is important. Knowing when to enter and when to exit is equally as important. Some terms become non-negotiable and some bargaining points. Knowing strategy, weakness and plus points always help.
Some key pointers include:
- Analyze -your source of power and know when to walk away – the best source of power lies in an ability to walk away from bargaining.
- Listen – to what is being said, do not just assume – listen to the arguments being made. Paraphrase and clarify where necessary. Know where difficulties may lie in their stance.
- Trade off – where can you make concessions? Identify issues that the other party may value and the ones which you do not.
- Contingent – where penalties will be imposed or how events may unfold can be calculated in. This becomes like a pilot test process.
- Rapport – what is the background history and level of trust. Can this be established and built?
How Did Dish TV Network Use these skills in their Contractual Approach?
Dish Network TV obviously had to examine the scope of some of these questions when considering the need to re-negotiate contracts with certain TV Channels. Certain demands of what they were wanting to be met and where they did not want to make an agreement were examined when they had to revise contractual agreements that had long been in place.
Renegotiation of contracts which were to be licensed with multiple other channels was made instead. This time, it was decided that these contracts were to be entered into on a week-to-week basis. A rapport was already in place. Majority of the disputes in the past and re-negotiations centered on programming or retransmission fees. Entering agreements this way, most possibly helps them gain greater control and leverage on when they want to be able to walk away from a contract without being bound to it on a long-term basis.
Some channels do not like to be at a point where an extension may not be a likelihood and do not enter those contracts for that reason. This is a big change for what it used to have before, which was similar to the three-year contract. Being able to hold accountability can give one party an upper hand when it comes to renewals. Viewers also want to be kept out of any dispute and public image will matter.
These sorts of contracts can allow for gaining greater power but also require much time invested when it comes to re-entering contracts on a timely basis and can require scrutinization of terms and agreements over and over. When disputes arise, they become programming disruptions. There contracts also apply for channels in the Spanish language and have been subject to the most of the disruptions.
Will this Trend Continue?
Campaigning has started with Congress and Federal Communications Commission in order to change the rules on how local and major TV network negotiations work; though that will take some time. Until then, program disputes will remain as outages as the parties blame each other for failures. Whether the rates that are set need to be controlled is another area that needs exploration. Public interest obligations are in place viewers have been used as bargaining chips. This will help rule out whether or not it is finances or contract wording that is at the heart of a dispute.
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