Tribune Stations Go Dark to Charter Cable Subscribers

Tribune Broadcasting pulled the signal from its TV stations from cable systems owned by Charter Communications, effective 5 p.m. ET Wednesday.

The retransmission consent agreement between the station group and the cable operator expired at year end, but the two sides agreed to a brief extension.

Charter said that Tribune is demanding an increase of more than double what it is now paying.

Related: Owners Come and Go, But Tribune Stations Stay Local

“That is more than we pay any other broadcaster. They’re not being reasonable,” Charter said in a statement.

The dispute affects 33 TV stations in 24 markets, including WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles, KDAF Dallas, and KSWB San Diego. WGNA America, the basic cable channel, also is affected.

Tribune said it offered Spectrum “fair market rates” for its stations, as well as for the WGN America cable network, which has also been blacked out.

"Spectrum has refused our offer and failed to negotiate in a meaningful fashion,” said Gary Weitman, senior VP, corporate relations at Tribune.

“We're extremely disappointed that we do not have an agreement on the renewal of our contract with Spectrum," said Weitman. "The NFL playoffs are in jeopardy—beginning this weekend with critical games in some key markets like Indianapolis and Seattle. We don't want Spectrum subscribers to miss these games."

Charter noted that NFL programming is available for free on the NFL and Yahoo Sports mobile apps. 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.