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Tribune Braces for Blackout on U-verse

Tribune Media has begun warning viewers that they could lose programming from their TV station if they are AT&T U-verse subscribers at the end of the month.

AT&T acquired DirecTV and DirecTV is having a similar issue with Media General, which means the combined company could go dark on nearly 100 stations on Oct. 1.

On Tribune-owned WGN-TV’s website in Chicago, the station urges viewers to call AT&T.

“Let them know how important WGN is to you, and that you do not want its programming to be interrupted,” Tribune says. The website also suggests viewers could get a antenna or switch to a different pay-TV provider.

On the website of WKRN-TV, Nashville, owned by Media General, the company says: "We are working hard to reach a new agreement, however, as a trusted source for news and information, it is important to keep our viewers informed when a contract deadline approaches and a new agreement has not yet been reached. By law, if we do not reach an agreement, DirecTV can no longer carry Nashville’s News 2."

The Media General station also provides a list of alternate pay-TV providers. The list includes DirecTV’s new corporate sibling AT&T U-verse. DirecTV has a statement regarding Media General on its DirecTV Promise website.

“Rest assured, we intend to keep your local Media General-owned broadcast station in your local DirecTV line-up but, by law, must first receive permission from Media General. Media General is threatening to block your station’s signal unless they receive more than double the current fees just to allow you to keep the same shows you’ve always had,” the statement says. “Media General has briefly suspended its channels from other satellite and cable providers before, but our immediate goal is to resolve this matter behind-the-scenes without involving you. We appreciate your patience as we do the work to try to keep your programming costs as low as possible. If Media General tries to make it more difficult for local fans to see any upcoming college or NFL action, DirecTV will do its best to help as many as possible receive any affected games with limited inconvenience."

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.