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Zimmer: U-verse Deal Accelerates WGN America Cable Conversion

WGN America President of Distribution, Dana Zimmer, said the just announced carriage/retransmission consent deal with AT&T's U-verse will add 5 million subs to the cable net, bringing its total to more than 80 million by 2016.

She said the subs, mostly DirecTV but some U-verse, would be added "incrementally" but would all be on board by Jan. 1. AT&T recently merged with DirecTV.

"The important thing about this deal," Zimmer told Multichannel News/B&C, "is that it completes our status from a Superstation to a cable network 18 months ahead of schedule. So the network will be a fully run network by the end of the year." She called the agreement one of the last big deals they had yet to convert.

Asked if the buzz about original drama Manhattan helped to convert the deal, she said "all the programming certainly helped to sell the network," and called it a complex deal that she could not ascribe too much credit to one element, but added: "Certainly The rise of Manhattan has been helpful to the network."

Zimmer also pointed out that come January the network will, for the first time, have both an East Coast and a West Coast feed.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.