NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — WPIX-TV New York and several other Tribune Co.-owned broadcast stations went dark on the Cablevision system Friday amid a dispute over retransmission fees.
Cablevision Systems Corp. said in a statement Friday that Tribune Co. is demanding tens of millions in new fees for WPIX and other Tribune Co. stations.
Tribune Co. said Cablevision blacked out its stations in the middle of negotiations on a new retransmission deal. It said it offered to extend the current agreement while talks continue.
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The other stations that went dark on Friday are: WCCT, carried in parts of Connecticut; KWGN in some Optimum West markets; and WPHL in parts of New Jersey.
The dispute is only the latest in an ongoing battle between media companies such as Tribune Co. and cable and satellite providers that are balking at paying higher fees for programming. Distributors such as Cablevision have seen their profits squeezed because they have not been able to raise rates or add subscribers fast enough to offset higher programming fees.
Chicago-based Tribune Co. is working to exit bankruptcy protection it sought after a disastrous 2007 leveraged buyout.
Cablevision said Tribune Co. and its new ownership group, which includes hedge fund Oaktree Capital Management, is “trying to solve Tribune’s financial problems on the backs of Cablevision customers.”
Tribune Co. said it has never been compensated by Cablevision for the retransmission of its local channels. It said it is proposing fees that amount to less than a penny a day per subscriber from Cablevision, which is based in Bethpage, N.Y.
Cablevision shares rose 7 cents to close at $15.13.
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