×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

CBS Switches Indianapolis Affiliation in Tribune Pact, Bumping CW to Digital Channel

CBS has struck a long-term affiliation pact with Tribune Media that calls for the Eye to move to the Tribune-owned station in Indianapolis.

CBS’ move to Tribune’s WTTV-TV Indianapolis as of Jan. 1 will displace the CW, which had been airing on the VHF station. CW, which is a joint venture of CBS Corp. and Warner Bros., will shift to WTTV’s digital multicast channel, WTTV 4.2.

Deal was driven by CBS’ push for reverse retransmission consent compensation from its affiliate stations. The Eye’s current Indianapolis affil, Lin Media’s WISH-TV, had been in negotiations with CBS to renew, but was said to be balking at CBS’ reverse-comp terms.

Meanwhile, Tribune was eager to land CBS’ NFL package, which includes the Indianapolis Colts (pictured), for WTTV, one of the strongest stations (with channel position 4) in the market overall. Indianapolis ranks as the nation’s 26th-largest TV market, per Nielsen.

CBS’ shuffle in Indianapolis sends a clear message to other affiliate stations that the network is willing to move if station owners don’t want to pay the Eye’s price. Networks were once loathe to move stations in a market for fear that the disruption in channel position would cost them viewers. But in the programming environment driven by digital listings and on-demand options, the Eye is clearly confident that viewers will find its shows no matter where it lands on the dial.

The same goes for CW in its likely shuffle to the digital channel. The net’s viewers are already adept at finding CW shows online and via on-demand platforms, which will help mitigate the loss of VHF distribution in the market. The Jan. 1 timing of the switchover means that CW would get through the fall launch on WTTV, and the station will have plenty of time to alert viewers he channel switch for CW.

At the same time, there might be an opening for CW on WISH now that the Lin station is about to lose its CBS affiliation. A rep for Austin, Texas-based Lin Media could not immediately be reached for comment.

As part of the Indianapolis pact, CBS and Tribune renewed existing affiliations in four other small markets: WREG-TV in Memphis, Tenn.; WHNT-TV in Huntsville, Ala; KFSM-TV in Ft. Smith, Ark., and WTVR-TV in Richmond, Va. CBS also re-upped with Dreamcatcher Broadcasting’s WTKR in Norfolk, Va., which is managed by Tribune under a shared-services agreement.

Tribune has 14 CW affiliates, including its outlets in New York, L.A. and Chicago, that are the core station group for the CW network. The affiliation deal between Tribune and CW is believed to expire in 2016.

More TV

  • 'This Is Us' Composer Siddhartha Khosla

    'This Is Us' Composer Siddhartha Khosla Signs With ASCAP

    Siddhartha Khosla, one of the busiest composers in TV with ongoing assignments for “This Is Us,” “The Kids Are Alright” and “Marvel’s Runaways,” has made the move to ASCAP, the performing-rights organization announced Wednesday. For all of his steady television gigs, “This is Us” remains by far the most prominent, partly because he provides prominent [...]

  • Kate Mulgrew

    TV News Roundup: Kate Mulgrew Among Three to Join 'Mr. Mercedes' Season 3

    In today’s roundup, TBS announces cast members for Nasim Pedrad’s upcoming pilot series “Chad” and “Mr. Mercedes” gets three recurring guest stars. CASTING TBS has announced the series regulars for its upcoming pilot “Chad,” created by “Saturday Night Live” alum Nasim Pedrad, who plays the titular 14-year-old Persian boy. Ella Mika portrays Chad’s younger sister Niki, [...]

  • Michelle Dockery Jaeden Martell

    Michelle Dockery, Jaeden Martell Join Chris Evans in Apple Series 'Defending Jacob'

    “Downton Abbey” alum Michelle Dockery and “IT” star Jaeden Martell have signed on for lead roles in the Apple limited series “Defending Jacob,” Variety has learned. They join previously announced series lead Chris Evans. The series is based on the 2012 best-selling novel of the same name by William Landay. It tells the story of [...]

  • Disney Fox Takeover Placeholder

    Disney, Fox Employees Grapple With Day One Transition on Two Hollywood Lots

    What kind of a boss will Disney be? That’s a question facing employees at 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, National Geographic Partners, FX Networks, and other assorted parts of Rupert Murdoch’s former media empire. Wednesday was their first full day as staffers of the Walt Disney Co. and the initial moves have done little to [...]

  • 20th Century Fox TV to Adapt

    20th Century Fox TV to Adapt Esi Edugyan Novel 'Washington Black' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Twentieth Television, in conjunction with Sterling K. Brown’s Indian Meadows Productions, Anthony Hemingway Productions and The Gotham Group, has won an intense bidding war for the rights to bring Esi Edugyan’s award-winning novel “Washington Black” to the small screen, Variety has learned exclusively. The novel will be adapted for into a limited series for TV by [...]

  • Facebook's 'Red Table Talk' Garners Daytime

    Facebook's 'Red Table Talk' Garners Daytime Emmy Nomination

    Facebook is now in the awards hunt: Its popular original series “Red Table Talk” hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith was nominated for a 2019 Daytime Emmy. It appears to be the first-ever Daytime Emmy Awards nomination for a Facebook-funded show, although a company rep was unable to confirm that. “Red Table Talk” is nominated in [...]

  • pharrell brain child show

    Pharrell Teams Up With Atomic Entertainment to Push 'Edu-Tainment' for Kids of Color

    Pharrell Williams may best be known as a Grammy-winning musician, but the 45-year-old is singing a different tune these days as the executive producer of “Brainchild,” a new Netflix series that teaches kids about science, technology, and current events. Co-created by Atomic Entertainment, the show is a spinoff of the New York-based production company’s “Brain [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content