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Tribune warns of blackout on Dish Network if agreement not reached

Dish Network satellite dish

Stations owned by Tribune Media are warning of a possible carriage dispute with Dish Network after the company says the satellite operator has refused to accept its terms to redistribute local channels.

If both sides do not reach an agreement by August 15, Dish Network customers in dozens of states could suddenly be without ABC, NBC, CBS or Fox programming if their local network affiliate is owned by Tribune Media, a notice to customers says.

Stations affected include Los Angeles CW affiliate KTLA-TV (Channel 5), New York City CW affiliate WPIX-TV (Channel 11), Sacramento FOX station KTXL (Channel 4), Chicago independent station WGN-TV (Channel 9) and Seattle FOX station KCPQ (Channel 13).

A statement issued by Tribune and posted on the websites of impacted stations says the channels could be removed after August 15 if both sides don’t reach an agreement

“If this happens, it’s DISH’s fault,” the statement said.

“We’re extremely disappointed that we do not have an agreement on the renewal of our contract with Dish,” Tribune executive Gary Weitman said. “We offered Dish an extension of our current agreement with no increase in rates while we continue to negotiate, and Dish rejected our proposal.”

In addition to dozens of local stations, the agreement would impact Tribune’s national cable channel WGN America. In some markets, viewers would be unable to watch locally-produced sports, entertainment programming and news.

It has been a particularly disruptive year for TV fans with several contract disputes leading to lengthier-than-usual programming disruptions across the country. On Thursday, CBS reached an agreement with DirecTV parent company AT&T to restore local channels and some CBS-owned cable networks to its satellite and streaming platforms after being unavailable for several weeks.

AT&T is also locked into a dispute with Nexstar Broadcasting that has led to a blackout of dozens of Nexstar-owned local TV stations. That dispute comes as Nexstar Broadcasting continues to seek regulatory approval over a proposed merger with Tribune Media, one that would create the largest broadcast operator in the country.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).