Tri­bune, Char­ter reach deal

Fox 61, WCCT re­stored to cable lineup

The News-Times - - WEATHER/NEWS - By Luther Turmelle [email protected]­medi­act.com

The dis­pute over re­trans­mis­sion fees be­tween Tri­bune Broad­cast­ing and Char­ter Com­mu­ni­ca­tions has been re­solved, of­fi­cials with the two com­pa­nies said Fri­day, end­ing a nine-day black­out of lo­cal tele­vi­sion sta­tions in­clud­ing Fox 61 and WCCT that are owned by the Chicago-based broad­cast giant on Spec­trum cable sys­tems.

Terms of the set­tle­ment be­tween Tri­bune Broad­cast­ing and Stam­ford-based Char­ter were not re­leased. The agree­ment also al­lows for the re­turn of WGN Amer­ica to re­turn to Char­ter’s cable sys­tems, which op­er­ate un­der the Spec­trum brand name.

Not know­ing the terms of the set­tle­ment means Char­ter sub­scribers won’t know what kind of ef­fect the agree­ment will have on their monthly cable bills.

Keep­ing that kind of in­for­ma­tion se­cret is a mis­take, said Rich Han­ley, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of jour­nal­ism at Quin­nip­iac Uni­ver­sity in Ham­den.

“Con­sid­er­ing the rate at which cable com­pa­nies are los­ing sub­scribers, it would be in their best in­ter­est to be as trans­par­ent as pos­si­ble and let peo­ple know what the agree­ment will mean to their cable bills,” Han­ley said. “It’s part of their ne­go­ti­at­ing tac­tics not to let other pro­gram­ming provider know what an­other is pay­ing, but there are no se­crets in the tele­vi­sion busi­ness. The rea­son not to re­lease that kind of in­for­ma­tion is ego be­cause it will show how shal­low both sides are, ar­gu­ing over a few pen­nies more per month per sub­scriber.”

Char­ter, head­quar­tered in Stam­ford, op­er­ates two cable sys­tems covering 30 com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing towns in Fair­field, Litch­field and New Haven coun­ties.

Tri­bune’s sta­tions were re­moved from Char­ter’s cable sys­tems at 5 p.m Jan. 3. The pre­vi­ous con­tract had been sched­uled to ex­pire at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 31; the two sides de­cided to ex­tend the dead­line for the re­moval of the channels by two days.

The set­tle­ment comes just in time to en­sure that pro­fes­sional foot­ball fans won’t miss this week­end’s games in the di­vi­sional round of the National Foot­ball League play­offs. Two of the four games — Satur­day’s match-up be­tween the Dal­las Cow­boys and Los Angeles Rams and Sun­day’s con­test be­tween the Philadel­phia Ea­gles and New Or­leans Saints — will be cov­ered by Fox, ac­cord­ing to the sched­ule.

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