AT&T's U-verse and Tribune grow quiet on retrans talks, possible blackout

AT&T (NYSE: T) and Tribune Media have entered into a quiet phase, nearly 48 hours after the last announced extension to a legacy broadcast retransmission agreement between Tribune and AT&T's U-verse platform expired. 

Blackout threats posted on the websites of Tribune's 24 stations, with the hyperlink "Final notice!," have been removed. Does this mean a new, long-term retrans deal is close? "We continue talking with AT&T U-verse," Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman told FierceCable, without providing any further details.

"Talks with Tribune are continuing and we remain confident we can reach a deal that we believe is fair," read an AT&T statement.

Tribune stations currently remain viewable on AT&T U-verse.

The two sides have been haggling to renew a retrans agreement that expired on Sept. 30. Two other retrans-related impasses -- between Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and Tegna, and between DirecTV and Media General -- have both recently been settled. 

The talks between AT&T and Tribune follow the recent closing of AT&T's purchase of DirecTV. In AT&T's third-quarter earnings call Thursday, Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO, implied that the addition of the much larger DirecTV (NYSE: T) platform gave U-verse an enhanced position in terms of program licensing negotiations.  "We believe we are on a path for the best content pricing going forward," he said. 

Meanwhile, the FCC is currently considering changes to the rules that govern how retransmission talks are conducted. The agency's efforts in the area may be creating additional incentives for TV broadcasters to ink agreements before any new rules are issued.

Related articles:
U-verse still on the brink of blackout with Tribune after one-day extension
U-verse facing blackout on Tribune as latest extension expires
AT&T's U-verse and Tribune extend retrans talks to Oct. 13
AT&T adds 26K DirecTV subs in Q3 as focus shifts to 'lower content cost platform'

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