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Dispute Knocks Local Stations Off Direct TV

Certain Tribune Broadcasting programs including that of New York’s WPIX  and Philadelphia’s WPHL have disappeared for DirecTV Inc. subscribers in 19 U.S. markets after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on payments for the content.

Gossip Girl
The CW's Gossip Girl will be among the missing shows from WPIX on Direct TV. (WPIX TV)

Tribune Broadcasting said late Saturday in a statement that without a deal in place, DirecTV was barred by federal law from carrying the signal of Tribune’s local television stations after midnight, when their agreement expired.

The affected markets include New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia.

The blackout threatens broadcasts of the Mets and Phillies season openers on WPIX and WPHL respectively this Thursday.

Tribune refuted a contention by DirecTV that it had a handshake deal on financial terms on Thursday. DirecTV says Tribune’s “actions are the true definition of ‘bad faith.’”

Early Saturday, DirecTV again said it had agreed to terms offered by Tribune to carry its television stations, leading many to assume that the two sides had settled their differences.

However, Tribune soon fired back that DirecTV was misleading people and that there was no agreement in place. Tribune is the parent of the Los Angeles Times. It president and CEO, Eddy Hartenstein, is a former chief executive of DirecTV.

“This situation is extremely unfortunate,” said Nils Larsen, Tribune Broadcasting president. “We don’t want anyone to lose the valuable programming we provide, but we simply cannot get fair compensation from DirecTV and we cannot allow DirecTV to continue taking advantage of us.”

Negotiations have been ongoing for months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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