Tribune, Dish Network End Long Blackout

Ending a nearly three-month blackout, Tribune Media and Dish Network said they reached a long-term carriage agreement just as football season was kicking off.

The deal should return Tribune’s 42 local stations in 33 markets to Dish’s satellite TV subscribers Saturday. The stations have been unavailable since June because of a retransmission consent dispute that also involved Tribune’s cable network WGN America.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Related: Charter-Tribune Deal Puts Dodgers on Air

Dish and Tribune issued a joint statement that said: “We want to thank our viewers and customers for their patience and support as we worked through this lengthy process. We’re pleased to move forward and again be able to provide the content of Tribune’s local stations and WGN America for years to come.”

The dispute was pretty nasty, with Tribune running ads urging Dish subscribers to switch pay-TV providers lest they miss a good deal of local sports, including a big chunk of NFL games in cities like Indianapolis and Seattle.

Dish sued Tribune over its ads criticizing Dish.

Related: Tribune Sells Its Landmark Chicago Tower

Rev. Jesse Jackson also got involved in the dispute because it disrupted viewers access to the WGN America series Underground.

Ultimately, the brink of football season led to a settlement, once again showing the power of the NFL and college football on television.

In a memo to Tribune staffers, CEO Peter Liguori thanked his team for their work during negoations.

Related: Tribune TV Division Revenue Up 5% to $467M in 2Q

“While the specifics of the agreement are confidential, we’re pleased with its terms and believe we achieved everything we had hoped to, including broad distribution for WGN America,” Liguori said. “The timing is great, too, with college and NFL football about to get the regular season underway, new fall prime-time programming set to debut in a few weeks, and Salem returning for its third season on WGN America.”

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.