Tribune Stations Go Dark on Dish Before Tonys, NBA Finals

  • Blackout affects 42 local channels in 33 markets across U.S.
  • Tribune asking to package its cable channel with stations

Tribune Media Co. blacked out 42 local channels in 33 markets for customers of Dish Network Corp. after failing to agree to terms on a new contract with the satellite TV provider.

Tribune owns affiliates for all four major U.S. broadcast networks, including Fox in Denver, Seattle and Cleveland, as well as 13 stations carrying The CW, Dish and Tribune Media said in separate statements. If the blackout persists, viewers in select markets would miss the Tony Awards, airing Sunday on CBS, and the fifth game of the NBA Finals, airing Monday on ABC.

Tribune asked to package its cable channel WGN America with those affiliates, as well as price increases, Dish said in a statement Sunday announcing the blackout. Dish said it will give customers antennas so that they can access local broadcast channels.

“There are significant issues left to negotiate between Tribune Broadcasting and Dish,” Gary Weitman, Tribune Media’s senior vice president for corporate relations, said in an e-mail. “We repeatedly offered Dish a 60-day extension which the company declined.”

Disputes between programmers and pay-TV operators are increasingly common as both sides fret about the growing popularity of online services like YouTube and Netflix that some customers substitute for pay-TV packages. Dish has routinely fought in public with programming partners, including a protracted dispute with Viacom Inc. earlier this year.

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