Spectrum TV’s blackout ends as Charter and Tribune reach new agreement

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Charter Communications and Tribune Media reached an agreement early Friday that ends the two companies’ programming dispute, bringing live sports, award shows and other programming back online for millions of Spectrum TV customers.

The blackout, which had stretched on for nine days, resulted in the disruption of TV services in two dozen markets nationwide — including Denver, Houston, New York, Los Angeles and St. Louis. Viewers faced greater difficulties watching highly anticipated postseason football games such as the faceoff between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans on Saturday.

But despite the headache it caused for Charter’s 16 million video subscribers, the contract dispute was resolved with little fanfare.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement that will return Tribune Broadcasting’s local television stations and WGN America to Spectrum customers and Tribune’s viewers,” the two companies said in a joint statement. No details of the agreement were disclosed.

The spat was among the latest to threaten entertainment programming for Americans at the start of a busy TV season. Programmers can demand top dollar from cable and satellite TV providers in exchange for the rights to air their lucrative content, and TV distributors such as Charter and Verizon have protested sharp increases in proposed rates.

In recent weeks, other blackouts have affected HBO fans on Dish Network; Disney content on Verizon; and Verizon and Tegna, whose dispute knocked out CBS in the Washington region.

Blackouts hit TV viewers as many as 140 times last year, according to the American Television Alliance, a trade association representing distributors and independent programmers.

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