An estimated 6 million Charter Spectrum customers lost Tribune Broadcasting stations Wednesday due to a retransmission consent impasse. The blackout impacts 33 Tribune stations in 24 Charter markets. The entire Charter footprint lost access to cable network WGN America.
Tribune and Charter’s contract actually expired at 12:01am ET Tuesday, but the two agreed to a brief extension that kept the programming up through 5pm ET Wednesday as negotiations continued. The blackout hits just ahead of NFL playoff action that begins Saturday. Charter is telling customers that all NFL games are available for free on the NFL and Yahoo Sports mobile apps.
“It is unfortunate that Tribune has decided to pull its programming from our customers’ lineups,” Charter said, claiming that the broadcaster wants more than double what it currently pays for the programming.
In the hour ahead of Wednesday’s deadline, Charter told customers on social media that it was continuing to negotiate with Tribune. “Charter is committed to holding down the cost of programming and, in turn, the cost our customers pay for cable television service,” the company said. Charter is directing customers to GetTheFactsaboutTribune.com and TribuneFairDeal.com.
The American TV Alliance, the retrans reform group supported by companies such as DISH and Mediacom, said that consumers faced up to 70 year-end blackouts as the calendar turned to 2019, according to the group’s analysis of publicly available reports. Verizon Fios lost three TEGNA stations on Monday, and TDS lost several Nexstar stations.