Tribune Stations Dark on Cable One

Affects Markets in Oklahoma and Tennessee
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Tribune Media stations in Oklahoma City and Memphis, Tenn., went dark on Cable One systems on Friday, after the two reached a stalemate in retransmission consent negotiations.

Cable One has taken a hardline stance in carriage negotiations in the past – it is currently in its eighth month of a blackout of Viacom networks over rates  – but has managed to reach some deals. Earlier this month it agreed to a multi-year deal with NBC Universal, including carriage of NBCU’s owned and operated stations and cable networks. In the latest dispute with Tribune, Cable One said the impasse centers on the broadcaster’s pricing demands.

As a result two Tribune Media stations in Oklahoma City – KFOR (NBC) and KAUT (My Network TV)– and its CBS affiliate in Memphis, WREG, went dark to Cable One customers in those areas at 5 p.m. on Friday.

“For the past several weeks we’ve been in negotiations with Tribune Media for the right to retransmit their channels and we have made every effort to reach a fair deal,” Cable One  said in a statement. “Tribune Media, however, is demanding a 324% rate increase and they have refused our proposal to pay a rate that is more than fair. Tribune also refused our request for an extension so that we could keep these channels up and running for our customers while negotiations continued.”

Cable One said it would continue to work to return the channels to its lineup.

Tribune Media had another take on the dispute, adding that negotiations with the operator have been attempted in good faith and the broadcaster offered what it considered to be fair value pricing for its programming.

“Unfortunately, we could not come to an agreement that fairly compensated us for the high quality programming, news and sports our stations provide their community,” Tribune Media spokeswoman Jessica Bellucci said in an e-mail message.

Tribune added that it had granted Cable One an extension in the past -- the original agreement expired on Dec. 31.

"We are extremely disappointed that Cable One is unwilling to come to a fair agreement," Tribune said in a statement. "We are deeply committed to serving our viewers and, in fact, we have completed more than 300 carriage agreements without any service interruptions in just the past several months. In contrast, Cable One has taken off at least four network groups in the last 18 months. It is unfortunate that Cable One is refusing to engage in a reasonable negotiation which would allow the station to remain on the air."

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