Tribune Television Stations and WGN America No Longer Available Via DirecTV
Contract Covering 19 TV Markets, WGN America, Will Expire Tonight
CHICAGO, March 31, 2012 -- As of midnight, tonight, Tribune television stations in 19 markets across the country will no longer be available via DirecTV, denying subscribers access to the local news, traffic, weather, sports and entertainment programming provided by those stations. DirecTV subscribers will also be unable to watch WGN America, Tribune's national cable network.
Tribune Broadcasting's contract with DirecTV will expire at midnight, Saturday, March 31. A new agreement has not been reached. By federal law, without an agreement in place, DirecTV cannot carry the signal of Tribune's local television stations. Tribune's local stations in the eastern time zone will be the first to be denied by DirecTV to its subscribers. Stations in other time zones will follow.
"This situation is extremely unfortunate," said Nils Larsen, Tribune Broadcasting president. "We don't want anyone to lose the valuable programming we provide, but we simply cannot get fair compensation from DirecTV and we cannot allow DirecTV to continue taking advantage of us."
DirecTV has never compensated Tribune for the rebroadcast of its television stations and Tribune is asking for an agreement that is similar to those that DirecTV already has in place with hundreds of other broadcasters and program providers.
"As baseball season gets underway, DirecTV's inflexibility means sports fans in some of our local markets such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, will be deprived of one of baseball's most cherished events - Opening Day," said Larsen.
In Chicago, Cubs and White Sox baseball games broadcast on WGN-TV will be lost to subscribers, including the home openers of both teams. DirecTV subscribers in Philadelphia will lose access to Phillies baseball on WPHL-TV, including the team's home opener. In Washington, D.C., subscribers who are fans of the Nationals will not be able to see Nationals games on WDCW-TV, including their Opening Day contest with the Chicago Cubs. In New York, DirecTV subscribers will lose access to Mets baseball broadcast via WPIX-TV. Finally, DirecTV subscribers across the country will lose access to HD sports programming such as Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox baseball broadcast by WGN America.
"In addition, local news, weather, traffic and sports coverage will also be lost, as well as the high-quality entertainment programming we offer on our local stations," said Larsen. "This is a terrible outcome for the communities we serve and we regret that DirecTV has put us in this position."
In those markets in which Tribune owns the local Fox affiliate, DirecTV subscribers will lose entertainment programming such as "American Idol," "Glee," "New Girl" and sports programming such as NASCAR and Major League Baseball. In those markets where Tribune owns the local affiliate of The CW Network, DirecTV subscribers will lose programming such as "America's Next Top Model," "Gossip Girl," "Supernatural," "Vampire Diaries," and the series finale of "One Tree Hill." In New Orleans, where Tribune owns the local ABC affiliate, "Modern Family," and NBA basketball games will be unavailable to subscribers.
"There are options for DirecTV subscribers," said Larsen. "They 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."
Tribune has established a web site, www.tellDirecTV.com, to enable DirecTV subscribers to register their concerns about losing this valuable programming. "We've seen tremendous traffic to the website and a very high volume of calls, and we know that people will be disappointed and upset," said Larsen. "We're urging DirecTV subscribers to continue to make sure they are heard by calling DirecTV and engaging in social media via Twitter and Facebook."
TRIBUNE is one of the country's leading multimedia companies, operating businesses in broadcasting, publishing, and interactive. The company's broadcasting group owns or operates 23 television stations, WGN America on national cable and Chicago's WGN-AM. In publishing, Tribune's leading daily newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, Sun Sentinel (South Florida), Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant, The Morning Call and Daily Press. Popular news and information websites complement Tribune's print and broadcast properties and extend the company's nationwide audience.