SBD/April 5, 2012/Media

Tribune-DirecTV Blackout Ends, WGN Returns In Time For Cubs' Season Opener

Cubs' season opener against Nats at Wrigley Field will now air on DirecTV via WGN
Tribune Broadcasting and DirecTV last night reached a deal "on retransmission fees, ending a four-day blackout that cut off programming to millions," and allows DirecTV subscribers to watch today's Opening Day Nationals-Cubs game on WGN America, according to Robert Channick of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The agreement "put 23 Tribune stations back on" DirecTV after the programming had been off the satellite provider since Saturday. The new agreement "is for five years," but financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. DirecTV Exec VP/Content Strategy & Development Derek Chang said, "We're pleased that Tribune and their creditors now recognize that all DirecTV wanted from day one was to pay fair market rates for their channels. It's unfortunate that Tribune was willing to hold our customers hostage in an attempt to extract excessive rates, but in the end we reached a fair deal at market rates." Tribune claims that it was seeking "less than a penny a day per subscriber" from DirecTV to carry its local TV stations. It was seeking "an undisclosed amount for WGN America" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/5). In Chicago, Channick writes the resolution of the Tribune-DirecTV blackout "ended in a mad scramble for subscribers trying desperately to catch the Cubs' opening-day game" against the Nationals at Wrigley Field. Carried by WGN, the game "would not have been available via the satellite provider -- even in Chicago" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/5). In Chicago, Anna Marie Kukec writes the deal "is good news for Major League Baseball officials, too." MLB Media Relations Dir John Blundell said, "It really stinks for the fans when there's a contract dispute like this" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 4/5).
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Media, Tribune Co., DirecTV, MLB, Chicago Cubs

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