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Dish Network, Tribune agree on carriage contract, ending blackout

With the start of the NFL football season just days away, satellite TV giant Dish Network and television station owner Tribune Media have reached an agreement to end a nearly three-month feud that left millions of viewers without a favorite local TV station.

The two companies on Saturday afternoon announced a resolution in the bitter dispute over fees, and that signals of Tribune stations would be restored to Dish systems. Tribune stations, including KTLA-TV Channel 5 in Los Angeles, were knocked off Dish on June 12.

Tribune is one of the largest TV station groups in the U.S. and viewers in certain cities, such as Indianapolis, had been growing anxious about the prospect of starting a new NFL season without access to a key TV station. In Indianapolis, Tribune owns both the CBS and Fox affiliates, which could have left Colts fans in the lurch.

The long-running dispute spawned a lawsuit and attracted the attention of the Federal Communications Commission.

With an agreement in place, signals of 42 Tribune stations, including KTLA, were expected to be restored on Dish systems late Saturday, Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman said. In addition, Dish’s more than 13.5 million customers will have access to the Tribune cable channel WGN America.

Financial terms of the long-term carriage deal were not disclosed.

“We want to thank our viewers and customers for their patience and support as we worked through this lengthy process,” the two companies said in a joint statement. “We’re pleased to move forward and again be able to provide the content of Tribune’s local stations and WGN America for years to come.”

The breakthrough came a day after Charter Communications reached a separate arrangement with Tribune to simulcast the last Los Angeles Dodgers baseball games called by Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully on KTLA. Six regular-season Dodgers games in late September and early October will be carried on the broadcast station. 

That deal was fashioned to allow thousands of Los Angeles viewers, who do not have access to the Dodgers’ cable channel, SportsNet LA, to see Scully wrap up his 67-year career with the Dodgers. Some Dish customers had expressed concern that, because of the Tribune outage, they might not be able to witness Scully’s final games.

Los Angeles is Dish’s largest TV market, where the company serves nearly 500,000 subscriber homes.

Until last year, the Los Angeles Times was part of Tribune Co. However, the Times is now part of a separate corporate entity.


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