The current contract covering 16 TV markets and Tribune’s WGN America cable channel expires on March 31.
Tribune television stations in 16 markets across the country began informing DirecTV subscribers on Monday that they could lose the local news, traffic, weather, sports and entertainment programming provided by those stations at midnight, March 31, when Tribune’s contract with DirecTV expires. Subscribers will also lose access to WGN America, Tribune’s national cable network.
Among the markets involved are New Orleans; Houston; Philadelphia; Chicago; San Diego; Hartford, Conn.; Indianapolis; Grand Rapids, Mich.; amd Harrisburg, Pa.
“Despite our best efforts, DirecTV is refusing to offer a fair deal and we remain far apart in negotiations,” said Nils Larsen, Tribune Broadcasting president. “As a result of DirecTV’s inflexibility, there’s a strong likelihood that service interruptions will occur. We feel we have an obligation to make sure DirecTV subscribers are aware that they will lose the programming provided both by our local stations and WGN America after Saturday.”
Tribune said in a statement: “For more than 10 years, DirecTV has paid popular broadcasters for the right to distribute their programming. DirecTV has never compensated Tribune for the rebroadcast of its television stations and Tribune is now asking for an agreement that is similar to those that DirecTV already has in place with hundreds of other broadcasters and program providers.”
“Our television stations are vitally important assets in the communities we serve,” said Larsen. “Each week, viewers across our markets rely on us for more than 700 hours of local news, traffic, weather and sports coverage, as well as live sports events and high-quality entertainment programming. DirecTV subscribers will be deprived of all of that programming when our contract expires at midnight, March 31.”
“We want to make sure that subscribers remember that if DirecTV drops the programming provided by our stations, subscribers will still have options,” said Larsen. “Subscribers don’t have to miss their regular news or favorite shows. Our broadcast stations are available for free in HD with a TV antenna or through an alternative pay-TV provider.”
In a statement, DirecTV said: “We believe Tribune’s local news and other programming is important to the public and have no problem compensating Tribune fairly. We have absolutely no intention of denying anyone access to these stations, unless Tribune specifically demands it.”