Tribune, Charter End Blackout With New Distribution Deal

LOS ANGELES (CN) – Tribune Media’s local TV stations and cable entertainment network were broadcasting again on Charter Spectrum cable Friday after the two communications giants agreed on a distribution contract and restored service for millions of customers.

Stamford, Connecticut-based Charter Communications – which offers broadband services under the Spectrum brand – pays a fee for the rights to broadcast Tribune Media’s news, weather, sports and entertainment programming.

Tribune Media, based in Chicago, pulled its programming from Spectrum cable networks after a dispute ensued over Tribune’s request that Spectrum pay an increased distribution fee.

After the companies missed their own Jan. 2 contract deadline, 6 million Spectrum cable subscribers lost access to local programming produced by Tribune Media.

The cuts affected 33 TV stations in 24 markets across the country. Spectrum subscribers also lost access to some Fox and CBS news channels nationwide.

Another 14 million Spectrum cable users lost access to WGN America, Tribune’s entertainment network featuring its premier programs such as “Blue Bloods” and “Elementary.”   

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed Friday but both companies applauded the deal in a joint statement.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement that will return Tribune Broadcasting’s local television stations and WGN America to Spectrum customers and Tribune’s viewers,” the companies said.

Details of Tribune’s fee increase request were not disclosed but a Jan. 2 statement by a Charter spokesperson chided “an increase of more than double” and called the request unreasonable.

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