On Saturday, Tribune and Dish finally came to an agreement on retransmission consent, three months after a dispute over the matter knocked 42 Tribune stations off the air in 33 markets.
The stations off Dish include newly independent WGN-TV here in Chicago, and CW affiliates WPIX in New York and KTLA in Los Angeles. The deal also includes WGN America.
Tribune also owns Big Four network affiliates in smaller markets. For example, Dish viewers couldn’t watch Big Brother in Indianapolis, America’s Got Talent in Oklahoma City, the NBA Finals in New Orleans, and the MLB Game Of The Week in Seattle.
Among retrans disputes, the spat between Dish and Tribune ranks as one of the longest – and it was nasty at times, often approaching the rancor of the state budget impasse between Governor Bruce Rauner and House speaker Michael Madigan. Just Friday night, WGN ran an ad urging Cubs (and White Sox) fans to contact Dish as viewers are missing out on the North Siders’ historic run to the playoffs. As noted here three days ago, WGN has six weeknight primetime games with three of them Cubs telecasts.
The impasse also took a strange turn as the Rev. Jesse Jackson got involved, slamming Dish for eliminating WGN America from its lineup – leaving viewers unable to watch Underground, a critically-acclaimed drama series the superstation-turned-cable network aired chronicling slaves who escaped through the Underground Railroad.
The move was also important as college football season starts this weekend and the NFL season the following week. Plus, the new television season is around the corner, beginning on September 19.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Until the next dispute….