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Tribune, Charter sign extension, while 3 Tegna stations dark on Verizon


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Tribune, Charter sign extension, while 3 Tegna stations dark on Verizon

Tribune Media Co.-owned Tribune Broadcasting Co. LLC and Charter Communications Inc. have avoided a disconnect at least for a few days, while TEGNA Inc. stations are now dark to Verizon Communications Inc.'s FiOS customers in three markets.

Tribune and Charter said they reached an extension that carries through 5 p.m. on Jan. 2. The parties' contract, covering 33 stations in 24 markets and cable network WGN America (US), was set to expire at 12:01 a.m. ET on Jan. 1. The broadcast station deals impact some 6 million Charter subscribers, while WGN America is available to 14 million of the nation’s No. 2 cable operator’s video customers.

As to Tegna and Verizon, the parties could not come to a retrans renewal by 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, resulting in WUSA, the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C.; WVEC, the ABC affiliate in Norfolk, Va.; and WGRZ, the NBC affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y., going dark to the telco’s video subscribers in those markets.

Tegna expressed disappointment in the failure to forge a renewal, noting it has reached hundreds of deals with cable and satellite providers across the country without service disruption.

"We remain hopeful this will get resolved quickly," the company said in a statement. "However, Verizon customers should know our channels remain available on every other service provider in their community as well as many over-the-top providers, who offer instant access when viewers sign up. Our station’s high-quality news, sports, weather and entertainment programming is also available for free over-the-air and viewers can continue watching our newscasts live on our stations' apps."

On a customer support site, Verizon countered, saying it has given Tegna "a reasonable offer to continue providing you access to their stations. Unfortunately, they have rejected our offer and as a result, we do not have the rights to bring you their stations. An increase of the size proposed by Tegna would force us to pass these costs onto you, which we are unwilling to do."

The company said its "goal is to reach a fair agreement allowing you to continue to have access to the stations you enjoy today while securing an agreement that is in the best interest of our customers."

It has been a busy time for Verizon on the carriage front. The company reached a broad distribution renewal with Walt Disney Co. on Dec. 30, ahead of a contract conclusion the following day. Details are expected to be announced within the next couple of days.

Verizon FiOS also has dropped multicultural, music network FUSE (US) from its lineup, citing costs relative to viewership levels.