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Tribune Broadcasting and DirecTV reach 5-year deal

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DirecTV subscribers in 19 U.S. markets, including Indianapolis, have regained access to a host of channels that had been blacked out since Sunday because of a contract impasse with Tribune Broadcasting.

The two companies said late Wednesday that they had struck a deal that will allow DirecTV Inc. to carry all of Tribune Broadcasting's local stations and WGN America for the next five years. Terms were not disclosed.

The deal let Indianapolis stations Fox59 and WTTV return to DirecTV subscribers Wednesday night.

DirecTV Inc. subscribers in the markets lost access to programming ranging from "American Idol" to Major League Baseball after the previous contract with Tribune Broadcasting expired at midnight Saturday. The Tribune Broadcasting channels were restored at about 9 p.m. Wednesday, DirectTV said.

The blackout affected DirecTV subscribers in major markets including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Philadelphia. The blackout also extended to stations in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Oregon, Texas, Washington state and Washington, D.C. DirectTV said 5 million homes were affected.

In its statement Wednesday, DirecTV accused Tribune of being "willing to hold our customers hostage in an attempt to extract excessive rates." But it described the final agreement as a fair deal at market rates.

Tribune also said it was pleased with the deal.

"On behalf of Tribune Broadcasting, I want to thank viewers across all of our markets for their support, understanding and patience during the negotiating process — we truly regret the service interruptions of the last several days," said Nils Larsen, president of Tribune Broadcasting.

Chicago-based Tribune Co.'s broadcasting group owns or runs 23 television stations, WGN America on national cable and Chicago radio station WGN-AM. Its publishing arm includes daily newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun.

Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2008 after suffering a financial downturn brought on by a steep slump in newspaper advertising and a debt-laden buyout engineered by real estate mogul Sam Zell.

DirecTV, based in El Segundo, Calif., serves 32 million people in the U.S. and Latin America.

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  • Breakaway
    And as the breakaway from pay tv continues, the over the air broadcasters become the winners. Snooki, the real housewives from hell, the Kardashians and all the other cable tv junk are the losers.
  • As Cost Go Up
    As the cost of service on cable and Direct TV go up consumers will shift to other services such as internet TV and local stations over the air. I know where the fee issue is going, fewer subscribers for Cable and Dish, more over the air and internet TV. This will be interesting to watch the big smart boys price themselves out of a market.

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  1. A Tilted Kilt at a water park themed hotel? Who planned that one? I guess the Dad's need something to do while the kids are on the water slides.

  2. Don't come down on the fair for offering drinks. This is a craft and certainly one that belongs in agriculture due to ingredients. And for those worrying about how much you can drink. I'm sure it's more to do with liability than anything else. They don't want people suing for being over served. If you want a buzz, do a little pre-drinking before you go.

  3. I don't drink but go into this "controlled area" so my friend can drink. They have their 3 drink limit and then I give my friend my 3 drink limit. How is the fair going to control this very likely situation????

  4. I feel the conditions of the alcohol sales are a bit heavy handed, but you need to realize this is the first year in quite some time that beer & wine will be sold at the fair. They're starting off slowly to get a gauge on how it will perform this year - I would assume if everything goes fine that they relax some of the limits in the next year or couple of years. That said, I think requiring the consumption of alcohol to only occur in the beer tent is a bit much. That is going to be an awkward situation for those with minors - "Honey, I'm getting a beer... Ok, sure go ahead... Alright see you in just a min- half an hour."

  5. This might be an effort on the part of the State Fair Board to manage the risk until they get a better feel for it. However, the blanket notion that alcohol should not be served at "family oriented" events is perhaps an oversimplification. and not too realistic. For 15 years, I was a volunteer at the Indianapolis Air Show, which was as family oriented an event as it gets. We sold beer donated by Monarch Beverage Company and served by licensed and trained employees of United Package Liquors who were unpaid volunteers. And where did that money go? To central Indiana children's charities, including Riley Hospital for Children! It's all about managing the risk.

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