AT&T facing Tribune blackout on U-verse, Media General interruption on DirecTV

AT&T (NYSE: T) is facing the looming possibility of dual blackouts on Oct. 1 involving nearly 100 stations as retransmission contracts involving its U-verse service and Tribune Media, as well as DirecTV and Media General, are set to expire. 

On its WGN-TV website in Chicago, Tribune has already started telling viewers to "Let [AT&T] know how important WGN is to you, and that you do not want its programming to be interrupted."

Meanwhile, Media General, which operates 71 stations in 48 markets, is including "Attention DirecTV Customer!" links on all of its station websites. The links take users to a page, informing them that Media General must, "by law," remove its signals from DirecTV's program guides by 11:59 p.m. EST on Sept. 30 if a new retrans deal isn't made with the satellite company. 

"Please call DirecTV and tell them you do not want to lose KRON 4 and all of your favorite programming," reads the message on Media General's KRON-TV in San Francisco. 

As it now routinely does for retransmission-related disputes, the satellite TV operator responded on its website. "Rest assured, we intend to keep your local Media General-owned broadcast station in your local DirecTV line-up but, by law, must first receive permission from Media General," a DirecTV statement said. "Media General is threatening to block your station's signal unless they receive more than double the current fees just to allow you to keep the same shows you've always had."

According to SNL Kagan data released earlier this week, Media General has seen the second fastest growth in per-subscriber retrans fees over the last year, with per-customer fees rising 45.2 percent to 99 cents a month in the second quarter. Media General just proposed a $2.45 billion takeover of Meredith Corp.

For more:
- read this TV Predictions story
- read this Seeking Alpha post
- read this Broadcasting & Cable story

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