The blackout happened “in the middle of negotiations with Tribune and without warning,” the broadcaster says. It means that Cablevision’s 3.3M cable customers now can’t see New York’s WPIX, Philadelphia’s WPHL, Hartford’s WCCT, and Denver’s KWGN. Like most retransmission consent disputes, cash is the main issue here. Cablevision says that “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.” The company also says that WPIX “carries syndicated shows that are largely available on other channels, and/or available online almost immediately after they appear on television.” But Tribune says that the cable company has “never compensated” it for retransmitting its local stations “which are among the most highly watched channels on Cablevision’s line-ups. What we have proposed amounts to less than a penny a day per subscriber, well below what Cablevision pays to providers of less well-watched channels.” The broadcaster also says that Cablevision “unilaterally” dropped its stations “despite our offer of an unconditional extension of the current carriage agreement with no change in terms while negotiations continued…. Tribune never made any threat to withdraw these stations or any demand that Cablevision remove them.” The Long Island-based cable operator accounts for about 8.4% of the 39.7M homes that Tribune stations reach, according to SNL Kagan data. Tribune briefly went dark on DirecTV in April in another retransmission dispute. Last month Hearst stations were temporarily blacked out Time Warner Cable.
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