WPIX and 3 Other Tribune Stations Go Dark on Cablevision Amid Dispute Over Retrans Fees

The Hollywood Reporter
Cablevision Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Viacom

Several Tribune Broadcasting stations, including WPIX-TV in New York, went dark on Cablevision at midnight Thursday amid a dispute over retransmission consent fees.

Other stations that were affected include CW affiliates WCCT, carried in a small portion of Connecticut, and KWGN in Denver, which is carried in some of Cablevision's Optimum West markets, as well as MyNetwork affiliate WPHL in Philadelphia, available in a small portion of New Jersey.

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In a statement, Cablevision accused Tribune asking for retrans fees that are too high because of parent Tribune Co.'s financial troubles.

"The bankrupt Tribune Co. and the hedge funds and banks that own it, including Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo Gordon & Co. and others, are trying to solve Tribune's financial problems on the backs of Cablevision customers," Cablevision said. "Tribune and their hedge fund owners are demanding tens of millions in new fees for WPIX and other stations they own. They should stop their anti-consumer demands and work productively to reach an agreement."

Tribune has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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Earlier this year, Tribune was embroiled in a similar dispute with DirecTV that resulted in a four-day blackout of 23 TV stations and WGN America on the satellite TV provider.

The Chicago-based Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy in 2008, a year after the company -- which owns 23 TV stations and several big newspapers -- was purchased by financier Sam Zell in a $13 billion leveraged buyout. In June, a Delaware bankruptcy judge approved a restructuring plan for Tribune Co. to emerge from Chapter 11.