The testy retransmission battle between Tribune and DirecTV took an unusual turn when the latter prematurely announced that a deal was at hand. Tribune agrees there were agreements in principle on some portions of the complex arrangement, but says that there was never an agreement on all of them. DirecTV has gone to the FCC in hopes of getting an intervention.
The negotiations are over carriage of 23 stations in 19 markets, and for carriage of Tribune’s WGN America.
Here is Tribune’s full statement:
“For months, Tribune and DirecTV have been negotiating a complex, multi-year contract for the carriage of our local television stations and WGN America. The contract is complex, in part, because it covers 23 local television stations with varying programming in 19 different markets, large and small, as well as our national cable network, WGN America. Over the course of any negotiation, parties may agree in principle on some terms and disagree on others, but it takes closure on all terms by both parties to reach an agreement. We never reached agreement with DirecTV on all the terms of the contract—not in principle, not by handshake and not on paper. We didn’t have an agreement on Thursday, March 29, and we do not have an agreement now.
“Our most recent filing with the FCC regarding Tribune’s anticipated emergence from bankruptcy was merely to provide the commission with data it would need to evaluate following confirmation of a restructuring plan. Our hope was to shorten the time between confirmation of our plan and emergence from Chapter 11. Any intimation that our broadcast licenses have been prematurely transferred is simply false and misleading.
“Claims of ‘bad faith’ and ‘outrageous conduct’ are nothing more than negotiating tactics in an attempt to unfairly disadvantage Tribune from receiving fair market compensation from DirecTV for carriage of Tribune’s local television stations and WGN America. Tribune seeks an agreement with DirecTV that is similar to those DirecTV already has in place with hundreds of other content providers.
“Finally, Tribune management, with the full support of its Board of Directors, remains firmly committed to an expeditious negotiation with DirecTV for the carriage of our local stations and WGN America in order to continue our long-standing history of public service.”