U-verse facing blackout on Tribune as latest extension expires

Tribune Media has posted what it terms as a "final notice" to AT&T U-verse (NYSE: T) subscribers on its station websites, informing them that the group's 24 stations will go dark on the operator's program grid starting at 5 p.m. EST Tuesday if a new broadcast retransmission deal isn't agreed to.

AT&T and Tribune have carved out a series of short-term extensions since their last retrans deal expired on Sept. 30.

"We are in continuous negotiations with AT&T U-verse to continue bringing our programming to you without interruption," said a message on Los Angeles station KTLA-TV. "We appreciate your loyalty to KTLA, and we are proud to serve this community with entertainment programming and important local news, weather and sports coverage. We are currently negotiating under an extension of our previous contract. That extension expires 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Tuesday, October 20. If we cannot come to an agreement by then, AT&T U-verse will no longer carry KTLA until a new contract is established."

The U-verse-Tribune deal was one of three major retrans licenses that expired at the end of last month. Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and Tegna struck a long-term deal on Oct. 11 after a one-day blackout.

DirecTV and Media General also settled on terms earlier this month. 

The slow negotiations come after retrans fees grew 40 percent per pay-TV subscriber over the last year. The FCC has signaled that it's ready to make key changes to how it regulates retransmission licensing talks, and broadcasters are aggressively pushing for the best possible retrans deals before the regulatory landscape shifts. 

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