Comcast reaches retrans agreement to keep WGN-TV on air

Saturday evening, Nexstar and Comcast came to terms on an agreement to keep their stations and cable news network NewsNation on their systems nationwide. 

Nexstar owns WGN-TV in Chicago while Comcast is the metro area’s largest subscription TV provider. A blackout could have hurt WGN’s ratings, as it regularly tops the weekday morning news race in the adult 25-54 demo and has a strong performance with their other newscasts throughout the day. Nexstar owns stations in at least 90 Comcast markets, including Chicago. 

In addition, Comcast returned New York CW affiliate WPIX to its systems in the Big Apple. WPIX is owned by Mission Broadcasting, but is run by Nexstar in a sales agreement. WPIX has been off Comcast since December 3 as Nexstar filed a “bad faith” complaint against Comcast at the FCC. With the agreement, the complaint is likely to be dropped (Mission also owns ABC affiliate WTVO in Rockford, and runs a joint sales agreement with Nexstar Fox affiliate WQRF.)

On Monday, WGN and other Nexstar stations began airing warnings saying Comcast subscribers could lose their signals if a deal wasn’t reached and also launched companion websites. According to Broadcasting & Cable, the previous agreement expired on Thursday – something Nexstar did not tell viewers on-air or on any of its websites. The commercials have stopped airing and the red flag banner has been removed from Nexstar station websites. 

This is the second blackout averted this month; two weeks ago, Fox and DirecTV reached an agreement to avoid a blackout, just in time for a weekend sporting schedule including a FIFA World Cup showdown between the U.S. and the Netherlands and a slate of NFL games.



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