Peace breaks out as Tribune stations return to Cablevision

Joseph O'Halloran | 27-10-2012

Following the now seemingly mandatory choreography of dispute, war of words and kiss and make up, the retrans row between Cablevision Systems and Tribune Company has been settled almost three months after hostilities began.

The spat started in August 2012 when Cablevision customers in the Hartford, Connecticut region found that they no longer had access to Tribune local news, traffic, weather, sports and entertainment programming provided by WTIC-TV.

In addition, Tribune’s networks, WGN America and AntennaTV, were pulled from Cablevision subscribers, meaning that they no longer had access to programming such as New Girl, Glee, The Simpsons, and live sports like NFL Football, NASCAR and Major League Baseball.

In a poorly phrased way of trying to gain the moral high ground and settle the dispute, Cablevision said that the “bankrupt” Tribune Company “caused” it to black out WPIX and a number of smaller Tribune-owned stations, carried in a small portion of Connecticut, and alleging possible illegality in the action.

In a statement it said: “After causing the blackout of WPIX on Cablevision a week ago, the Tribune Company has now pulled the plug on FOX CT in Hartford, even after Cablevision agreed to pay all the fees they demanded for this station. Tribune is illegally tying carriage of FOX CT to less-popular channels they also own, in an attempt to extract tens of millions in new fees from Cablevision customers. We call on Tribune to return FOX CT to our customers and work with us to reach a new agreement.”

Three months on and now all is sweetness and light, with a return to Cablevision of WTIC, the exclusive source of FOX programming in about 50,000 Cablevision homes in Connecticut; WPIX (CW); WCCT (CW) carried in a small portion of Connecticut; KWGN (CW) carried in some Optimum West markets; WPHL (MyNetwork) carried in a small portion of New Jersey; and WGN carried in a small portion of Cablevision’s Optimum West service area.

Commenting on the volte face, Cablevision said: “We are pleased to have reached agreement with Tribune to return its stations to Cablevision, particularly its FOX affiliate in Connecticut, the only source of FOX programming for about 50,000 of our customers. We sincerely appreciate the patience of our customers as we worked to reach an agreement that is consistent with our focus on minimising the impact of rising programming costs on cable rates.”