WXMI (Channel 17) in Grand Rapids and other Tribune stations have returned to the DIRECTV channel lineup.
DIRECTV and Tribune have reached a retransmission consent deal for DIRECTV to continue carrying all of Tribune’s local stations and WGN America for the next five years. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“We’re pleased that Tribune and their creditors now recognize that all DIRECTV wanted from day one was to pay fair market rates for their channels,” said Derek Chang, executive vice president of Content, Strategy and Development, DIRECTV. “It’s unfortunate that Tribune was willing to hold our customers hostage in an attempt to extract excessive rates, but in the end we reached a fair deal at market rates similar to what we originally agreed to on March 29. On behalf of our customers, we are very happy to close the deal and put this behind us.”
Tribune restored all of their local signals and WGN America to DIRECTV customers at approximately 9 p.m. ET.
Tribune Broadcasting’s local stations, including WXMI (FOX 17) in Grand Rapids, are no longer available on DIRECTV. WGN America was also removed from the DIRECTV channel lineup. Tribune’s contract with DIRECTV expired at midnight on March 31. DIRECTV replaced the channels with the following message:
The Tribune and DIRECTV retransmission dispute continues. The two companies do not have a contract for the rebroadcast of 23 local stations and WGN America.
Tribune Broadcasting is denying that it has reached a settlement with satellite television provider DirecTV Inc. in their contract negotiations. This means that DirecTV subscribers in 16 U.S. markets may lose access to certain programming at midnight.
DirecTV said in a statement on Saturday that it has accepted the financial terms that Tribune’s management offered it by telephone two days ago. A deal would allow DirecTV to carry Tribune’s 23 local broadcast stations so that customers would not lose their programming when the current agreement between the two companies expires.
But Tribune came out with its own statement shortly after on Saturday, saying that it has not reached a deal or come to terms with DirecTV on any aspect of the contract.
“Any statement by DirecTV to the contrary is inaccurate and misleading,” Tribune said.
DirecTV fired back, saying in another statement that it had a handshake deal with Tribune on Thursday with an agreed upon rate for their channels.
“Their actions are the true definition of ‘bad faith’ in every sense of the term,” DirecTV said.
DIRECTV has accepted financial terms for the retransmission of Tribune’s 23 local broadcast stations, including FOX affiliate WXMI (Channel 17) in Grand Rapids. Tribune has not responded to the DIRECTV press release. At this point, an official agreement has not been reached.
DIRECTV said today that it has accepted financial terms Tribune’s management offered to it by phone on Thursday, March 29 at 3:30 PM EST, to carry their 23 local broadcast stations to ensure customers do not lose their programming when the agreement with Tribune expires tonight at midnight
“We accept the rate proposal Tribune set forth on Thursday for the local channels and look forward to completing this agreement,” said Dan Hartman, senior vice president of Programming. “While we have been negotiating in good faith for two months, we believe Tribune’s viewers and our customers are best served by making sure the local stations remain on our service without disruption first and will then negotiate a separate agreement for WGN America.”
Update: Tribune has responded with this statement: “Tribune Broadcasting has not reached an agreement or come to terms with DirecTV on any aspect of its contract, which expires at midnight tonight. Any statement by DirecTV to the contrary is inaccurate and misleading.”
Tribune Broadcasting, the parent company of WXMI (FOX 17) in Grand Rapids, may remove FOX 17 from DIRECTV if the two companies cannot reach a retransmission agreement. The current contract expires on Saturday, March 31.
After a quiet stretch for retrans battles in the nation’s major TV markets, sparks are flying between Tribune Broadcasting and satcaster DirecTV.
Tribune rattled its saber Monday, warning viewers that they may lose access via DirecTV to its stations in 16 markets and the WGN America cabler after the current contract expires Saturday. Although talks between the sides continue, Tribune has started running on-air crawls on its stations and promos warning of the possible blackout to come. According to Tribune, negotiations on a new retrans pact have been stymied because the satcaster “is refusing to offer a fair deal.” The dispute, of course, boils down to the definition of “fair.”
In a statement, DirecTV said: “We believe Tribune’s local news and other programming is important to the public and have no problem compensating Tribune fairly. We have absolutely no intention of denying anyone access to these stations, unless Tribune specifically demands it.”
Rick Mecklenburg, former Chief Meteorologist at WSBT in South Bend, is lending a hand to the weather department at WXMI in Grand Rapids. He is filling in for WXMI Chief Meteorologist Peter Chan, who is recovering from surgery on a torn Achilles tendon. Chan is expected to be out of commission for at least four weeks.
Mecklenburg was Chief Meteorologist at WSBT from 1998 until his abrupt departure from the station in July. In November 2010, he was arrested and charged with two counts of false informing after saying police hit his car and fired shots at him. The St. Joseph County Prosecutor diverted all charges against Mecklenburg as long as he agreed to pay court costs, complete an approved counseling assessment and not commit any criminal offenses for the next year.
According to Mecklenburg, the arrest was caused by a difficult battle with alcohol. “As my friends and family know, I never did drink until I was in my late 30s. At that time, I went through a divorce and turned to alcohol to help ease the pain of not having my children around. It slowly got out of control to the point of my being arrested.”
Tribune’s WXMI (FOX 17) in Grand Rapids is launching a local lifestyle show called “The One Seven” in March. The new show, which will air weekdays from 5 – 6 PM, will be hosted by Michele DeSelms and Tim Doty.
What’s The One Seven? It’s Michele DeSelms and Tim Doty talking about the things you’re talking about and things you will be talking about. It’s a fun, fast-paced look at what’s going on in West Michigan as well as in the world of fashion, music, movies and TV.
Look at this way. You had a long day. You were late to work, you forgot your lunch, and accidentally replied to all when you just meant for those sarcastic remarks to be seen in the next cube over. You were cutoff twice on the way home, now the kids are yelling, the house is a mess and you just realized that so far, this is the best day you’ve had all week. Just ease into your favorite chair and turn on The One Seven. It’s a local show, with local flavor, from 5-6P so you can unwind. It’s for people who just want to take a breath, and not be hit with a bunch of bad news as soon as they walk through the door.
It’s a new kind of show, with 2 of West Michigan’s favorite television personalities, and it’s coming to FOX 17 this March.