The retransmission battle between television group Tribune and satellite MVPD DirecTV turned out to be one of the few in which there was a disruption in service to viewers, but it was not a prolonged disruption, and fans of Major League Baseball will not be deprived of access to Opening Day action.
The deal restores 23 Tribune television stations serving 19 markets to the DirecTV lineup, as well as Tribune’s WGN America service. As is always the case in resolved retransmission disputes, terms of the new agreement were kept under wraps, other than the fact that it will have a lifespan of five years.
Both sides issued statements, with Tribune hailing the agreement while DirecTV continued to speak as it did while the hostilities were at their high-water mark.
“We are extremely pleased to have reached an agreement with DirecTV and to return our valuable news, entertainment and sports programming to DirecTV subscribers,” said Nils Larsen, Tribune Broadcasting president. “On behalf of Tribune Broadcasting, I want to thank viewers across all of our markets for their support, understanding and patience during the negotiating process—we truly regret the service interruptions of the last several days.”
“We’re pleased that Tribune and their creditors now recognize that all DIRECTV wanted from day one was to pay fair market rates for their channels,” said Derek Chang, executive vice president of Content, Strategy and Development, DIRECTV. “It’s unfortunate that Tribune was willing to hold our customers hostage in an attempt to extract excessive rates, but in the end we reached a fair deal at market rates similar to what we originally agreed to on March 29. On behalf of our customers, we are very happy to close the deal and put this behind us.”
For baseball fans, it means they’ll be able to tune into games from the beginning of the season and beyond. Tribune noted its broadcast lineup, stating, “The agreement comes as baseball season is about to open, and enables DirecTV subscribers to see Chicago Cubs and White Sox baseball on WGN-TV in Chicago and on WGN America, as well as the Mets on WPIX-TV in New York, Phillies baseball on PHL17 in Philadelphia, and the Washington Nationals on WDCW-TV in Washington, D.C.”
RBR-TVBR observation: You may recall that DirecTV petitioned for FCC intervention. But in the end, the free market worked. Not that the FCC has much power to intervene anyway.