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Tribune, Charter Avert New Year’s Day Shutdown With Contract Extension

Tribune Media and Charter Communications have averted a New Year’s Day blackout of local TV stations and WGN America with an eleventh-hour agreement on a two-day contract extension.

Discussions went down to the wire on New Year’s Eve as the companies worked against at 12:01 a.m. ET contract expiration. The sides have been wrangling over the financial terms of retransmission consent agreements for the local stations as well as the length of the license term. The sides agreed to extend the current pact through 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday in order to give negotiators more time to hammer out an agreement.

The contract wrangling comes at a time of transition for Tribune as the company is awaiting its acquisition by Nexstar Media Group. Tribune was in the same situation in 2017 albeit with a different prospective buyer, Sinclair Broadcast Group, when it struck a short-term carriage extension deal with Charter. Tribune’s view was that Charter got a deal on rates and increases under that extension agreement because Tribune was preoccupied by the Sinclair acquisition. This time around, after the Sinclair deal fell apart and Nexstar stepped in, Tribune brass were determined to cut a long-term deal at market rates.

The carriage fight between Tribune and Charter is magnified by the size of the markets involved, notably New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Cleveland, St. Louis and New Orleans. Viewers will lose NFL coverage on some of Tribune’s Fox and CBS affiliate stations. The Tribune stations also typically serve up KTLA’s industry leading coverage of the Tournament of Roses parade on New Year’s Day.

(Pictured: KTLA’s coverage of the 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade)

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