Tribune Media and Charter Communications had an exchange of words Sunday as the deadline for a new carriage deal expires at 12:01 am ET on New Year’s Day. If a deal is not reached to renew the contract, 33 Tribune stations in 24 markets could go dark across Spectrum systems.
The Tribune’s Gary Weitman said in a statement given to Deadline: “Despite our best efforts, Charter-Spectrum has not engaged in meaningful negotiations with us, and we have not heard from them for several days.
He added, “We don’t want our viewers to experience any disruption of service or miss any programming, especially Tuesday’s Tournament of Roses Parade or next week’s NFL Playoffs. We remain ready to negotiate and continue to hope that Charter-Spectrum will reach an agreement with us at fair market rates for the programming offered by our TV stations and cable network WGN America.”
Last week, Charter offered a brief statement to Deadline saying “We continue to negotiate with Tribune and hope to reach a fair agreement.” As of Sunday, Charter has told Deadline that there are no updates on negotiations.
Tribune Media, many of whose stations are in major markets like New York, LA and Chicago, is set to be acquired by Nextar in a pending deal valued at $4.1 billion. After closing the deal, Nexstar will become the No. 1 owner of local TV stations in the U.S., surpassing Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose deal to acquire Tribune fell apart last summer.
Word of the Tribune-Spectrum carriage negotiations came just a day after Disney and Verizon FiOS publicly squared off. While 2018 is pacing below 2017 in terms of total blackouts, it has yielded several high-profile impasses, including a bruising one between Starz and Altice last winter and two current standoffs between Dish Network and Univision and HBO.