NFL viewers of KSWB Fox5 have reason to cheer: The 8-day-old standoff that led to the station going dark for Spectrum cable subscribers has ended.
“We are pleased to have reached this agreement that will return Tribune Broadcasting’s local television stations and WGN America to Spectrum customers and Tribune’s viewers,” said a joint statement that didn’t disclose terms of the deal.
In San Diego, KSWB went black on Spectrum cable shortly after 2 p.m. Jan. 2 — the expiration time of the previous contract for Spectrum to carry Tribune stations.
That day, Tribune Media’s senior vice president for corporate relations said: “We’re extremely disappointed that we do not have an agreement on the renewal of our contract with Spectrum.”
The spokesman, Gary Weitman, noted that its airing of NFL playoffs were in jeopardy.
“We’ve offered Spectrum fair market rates for our top-rated local news, live sports and high-quality entertainment programming, and similarly fair rates for our cable network, WGN America,” he said. “Spectrum has refused our offer and failed to negotiate in a meaningful fashion.”
Charter Communications foisted blame for the dispute on Tribune Broadcasting, saying the media company was demanding the cable system pay triple the amount for the same programming it already carries.
“We offered a fair price and they insist we pay them materially more than we pay any other of the 1,700 broadcast stations we carry,” according to a message from Charter broadcast to viewers on the blacked out channels. “We don’t think it’s fair that they are demanding huge fee increases, especially since their programming is provided free with a TV antenna, and much of it is available for free on the internet.
“This is how Tribune Broadcasting operates. Driven by greed, they’ve pulled their channels from other distributors over recent years as a negotiating tactic,” according to the Charter message.
Tribune Broadcasting said the blackout affected roughly 6 million cable customers who had access to local Tribune stations, while 14 million customers lost access to WGN America, the company’s basic cable network.
A spokeswoman for Charter Communications wouldn’t say how many San Diegans subscribe to Spectrum, telling Times of San Diego: “We don’t divulge specific customer information, such as number of subscribers, for competitive reasons.”
Previously known as Time Warner Cable, Spectrum serves a large slice of San Diego County north of Interstate 8.
According to Fox5’s program schedule, the NFC divisional-round game between the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams will air at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Other popular KSWB programs returning to Spectrum include “Two and a Half Men,” “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “Modern Family.”
— City News Service contributed to this report.
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