Cablevision, Tribune Trade Volleys Over Blackout

Tribune says it offered to let Cablevision keep airing channels; Cablevision accuses Tribune owners of greed

Last Updated: August 17, 2012 @ 2:24 PM

Four Tribune stations remained blacked out to Cablevision customers Friday as the two companies argued over fees.

Tribune's WPIX in New York, WPHL in Philadelphia, WCCT in Hartford and KWGN in Denver went dark at midnight for Cablevision customers as the companies' retransmission agreements expired. Tribune said it had offered in good faith to let Cablevision continue airing the stations under the previous contract, but that Cablevision declined.

Cablevision, meanwhile, contends that Tribune's hedge fund owners are demanding fee increases that would be passed on to consumers.

"Tribune is in bankruptcy and the greed of their new hedge fund owners caused this blackout. It is wrong for Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo Gordon & Co. and other hedge funds to demand tens of millions of dollars in new fees from Cablevision customers to solve Tribune’s financial problems," Cablevision said in a statement.

The cable company also said it was pursuing "legal and regulatory options" to stop Cablevision from tying the carriage of its Fox affiliate in Hartford, WTIC, to the right to air WPIX and other channels.

Tribune responded that all of its retransmission agreements with Cablevision for the last two decades have been "for all Tribune stations in markets served by all Cablevision systems." It says it deals similarly with all other major cable providers and satellite carriers.  

"This approach is more efficient, benefits subscribers, is completely lawful, and fully complies with the FCC's good faith negotiation rules," Tribune said.