Contract Covering 19 TV Markets, WGN America, Expires March 31st
Tribune television stations in 19 markets across the country today began informing DirecTV subscribers that they will 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.
“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.”
For more than ten 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.”
In addition, 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,” and “Vampire Diaries.” In New Orleans, where Tribune owns the local ABC affiliate, “Modern Family” and NBA basketball games will be unavailable to subscribers.
In New York, DirecTV subscribers will lose access to Mets baseball broadcast via WPIX-TV. In Chicago, Cubs and White Sox baseball games will be lost to subscribers. In Philadelphia, DirecTV subscribers will lose access to Phillies baseball on WPHL-TV. Finally, HD sports programming such as Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox baseball broadcast by WGN America will be unavailable to DirecTV subscribers across the country.
“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.”
Tribune has established a web site, www.telldirectv.com, to enable DirecTV subscribers to register their concerns about losing this valuable programming. “Subscribers should let DirecTV know how they feel,” said Larsen. “Their opinions are important and they should let DirecTV know they want to keep all of this programming.”