Tribune Broadcasting

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Tribune Broadcasting Company
Type Subsidiary
Industry Broadcast television, radio
Founded 1981
Key people Peter Liguori
(president/CEO of the Tribune Company)
Larry Wert
(president of Tribune Broadcasting)
Parent Tribune Company
Website tribune.com

Tribune Broadcasting is a subsidiary of the Tribune Company, a Chicago, Illinois-based media conglomerate; Tribune Broadcasting owns broadcast television and radio stations, and cable television and national digital subchannel networks throughout the United States.

History[edit]

Tribune Broadcasting originated with the June 1924 purchase of radio station WDAP by the Chicago Tribune. The new owners changed the station's call letters to WGN, to match the Tribune's slogan, "World's Greatest Newspaper." WGN Radio would launch a television station in Chicago, in April 1948. Two months later, the Tribune's then-sibling newspaper in New York City, the Daily News, established its own television station, WPIX.

During the next six decades, Tribune Broadcasting (known originally as WGN, Incorporated, and from 1966[1] to 1981[2] as WGN Continental Broadcasting Company) would acquire radio and television stations throughout the United States, most of the television properties acquired by the company prior to 1995 were independent stations. WGN-TV and WPIX are the only stations that Tribune has owned since their inceptions. Tribune also operated several local cable television systems from 1977 to 1985. In 1993, Tribune launched a regional cable news channel for the Chicago area called Chicagoland Television (CLTV). In November 1994, Tribune Broadcasting formed a partnership with several minority partners, including Quincy Jones, to form Qwest Broadcasting; Qwest operated as a technically separate company from Tribune (which owned stations in a few markets where Tribune owned stations, including WATL in Atlanta, which was operated alongside Tribune-owned WGNX);[3] Tribune would later acquire the Qwest stations outright in November 1999.[4]

From January 1995 to September 2006, Tribune Broadcasting was a partner in The WB Television Network, in a joint venture with the Warner Bros. Television division of Time Warner.[5] Tribune had an initial 12.5 percent ownership of the network at its beginning and later increased its stake to 22 percent, most of Tribune's television properties were WB affiliates. On July 2, 1996, Tribune acquired Renaissance Broadcasting, which owned Fox- and WB-affiliated stations in several large and mid-sized markets.[6] On January 24, 2006, Time Warner announced that it would partner with CBS Corporation to form a new network that would feature The WB and CBS-owned UPN's higher-rated shows mixed with newer series, called The CW Television Network. All but three of Tribune's 19 WB affiliates became affiliates of The CW on September 18, 2006, through ten-year agreements (the exceptions were in Philadelphia, Seattle and Atlanta, due to The CW affiliating with CBS-owned stations in those markets), though Tribune itself would not exercise an ownership stake in The CW as it did with The WB.[7]

In April 2007, Tribune's broadcasting interests were included in the sale of the entire company to Chicago investor Sam Zell, who planned take the publicly traded company private. The deal was completed on December 20, 2007.[8]

On December 21, 2007, Tribune and Oak Hill Capital Partners-controlled Local TV, LLC announced plans to collaborate in the formation of a "broadcast management company" (later named The Other Company); its Tribune Interactive division also operated the websites of its stations as part of the partnership.[9][10][11]

On December 8, 2008, Tribune announced that it would voluntarily restructure its debt obligations under the protection of Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court. As the company had sufficient funds to do so, Tribune continued to operate its newspaper publishing and broadcasting, and interactive businesses without interruption during the restructuring.[12]

On January 1, 2011, Tribune launched the digital broadcast network Antenna TV, a service that features a variety of classic television series and movies, including programming from Sony Pictures Television and D.L. Taffner Entertainment.[13] On May 13, 2013, Tribune announced that it would buy a 50% stake in the This TV digital broadcast network from fellow Chicago-based media company Weigel Broadcasting, Tribune took over operational duties for the network on November 1, 2013.[14]

On July 1, 2013, Tribune announced that it would purchase the 19 stations owned by Local TV, LLC outright for $2.725 billion; the purchase expanded the amount of Big Three network affiliates in its portfolio from one to 10 (most of Tribune's television stations prior to the purchase had either been independent stations or affiliates of networks that have launched since 1986; New Orleans station WGNO – an ABC affiliate – was Tribune's only station affiliated with one of the three pre-1986 networks prior to the purchase), as well as form duopolies involving stations in Denver and St. Louis where the two companies maintained local marketing agreements.[15] In order to prevent conflicts with newspaper cross-ownership restrictions (specifically, with Daily Press and The Morning Call), three stations involved in the acquisition – the Norfolk, Virginia duopoly of WTKR and WGNT, and Scranton, Pennsylvania station WNEP-TV – will be sold to Dreamcatcher Broadcasting and operated by Tribune under shared service agreements (Tribune will likely purchase WNEP after the publishing/broadcasting split,[16] although such a transfer may be complicated by possible FCC action on a proposal to end a "discount" in television station ownership limits that count UHF stations to half a percentage to a group's overall market reach, which would put Tribune just over the current limit of 39%, under which the company's current station holdings after the Local TV purchase would be grandfathered[17]). The FCC approved the acquisition on December 20,[18] and the sale was completed one week later on December 27.[19]

Television production and distribution[edit]

Tribune Entertainment[edit]

Tribune Entertainment was Tribune's television production, syndication and ad sales subsidiary. Founded in the mid-1980s, this subsidiary produced and/or distributed several first-run syndicated programs including most notably Geraldo, Soul Train and U.S. Farm Report; Tribune Entertainment's production and syndication divisions were shut down in December 2007.

Tribune Studios[edit]

On March 19, 2013, Tribune Company announced the relaunch of the division as Tribune Studios (not to be confused with the Los Angeles studio facility that formerly held the same name until its sale by Tribune to private equity firm Hudson Capital in 2008, and was subsequently renamed Sunset Bronson Studios). The new company will produce programs primarily for Tribune Broadcasting's television stations and WGN America, some of which will receive national distribution.[20]

Tribune-owned stations[edit]

As of December 2013, Tribune Broadcasting currently owns 39 television stations located in 33 markets (including eight duopolies). 31 of its stations are affiliated with each of the current post-1986 broadcast networks: 14 are affiliated with Fox (not counting a satellite station of KDVR), 13 with The CW (not counting a satellite of WTTV) and three with MyNetworkTV. In addition, the company owns four CBS affiliates, two ABC affiliates, two NBC affiliates and one independent station. It also provides operational services to three stations (one ABC affiliate, one CBS affiliate and one CW affiliate – the latter two are also operated as part of a duopoly) in the respective markets of Norfolk-Hampton Roads-Newport News, Virginia and Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania through shared services agreements with Dreamcatcher Broadcasting.

Tribune also owns the cable/satellite version of flagship station WGN-TV, known as WGN America (one of four superstations owned by Tribune, along with KTLA, KWGN-TV and WPIX); the Chicago-based regional cable news channel Chicagoland Television (CLTV); and maintains a 30% ownership interest in Food Network (the remaining controlling interest in that channel is held by Scripps Networks Interactive).

WGN Radio is the company's sole remaining radio station, and serves as the flagship station for a regional distribution service known as the Tribune Radio Network.[21] its primary features are farm reports from longtime WGN agriculture broadcasters Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong, along with distribution of the Chicago Cubs Radio Network to its affiliates. WGN also maintains a second online-only service known as WGN.fm (alternately known as "The G").

Television stations[edit]

Stations are listed alphabetically by state and city of license.

Note:

  • (**) - Indicates a station that was built and signed-on by Tribune.
  • (¤¤) – Indicates a station owned by Renaissance Broadcasting prior to its acquisition by Tribune in 1997. KDVR & WTXX were divested by Renaissance years prior, only to be acquired by Tribune in future acquisitions.
  • (++) – Indicates a station owned by Local TV LLC prior to its full acquisition by Tribune in 2013.
City of license / Market Station Channel TV (RF) Owned Since Primary Affiliation
Huntsville - Decatur, AL WHNT-TV ++ 19 (19) 2013 CBS
Fort Smith - Fayetteville, AR KFSM-TV ++ 5 (18) 2013 CBS
KXNW ++ 34 (34) 2013 MyNetworkTV
Los Angeles KTLA 5 (31) 1985 The CW
Sacramento - Stockton - Modesto KTXL ¤¤ 40 (40) 1997 Fox
San Diego KSWB-TV 69 (19) 1996 Fox
Denver KWGN-TV 2 (34) 1966 The CW
KDVR ++ 31 (32) 2013 Fox
Fort Collins, Colorado KFCT ++
(satellite of KDVR)
22 (21) 2013 Fox
Hartford - New Haven, CT WTIC-TV ¤¤ 61 (31) 1997 Fox
Waterbury, Connecticut WCCT-TV 20 (20) 2001 The CW
Washington, D.C. WDCW 50 (50) 1999 The CW
Miami - Fort Lauderdale WSFL-TV ¤¤ 39 (19) 1997 The CW
Chicago WGN-TV ** 9 (19) 1948 The CW
Moline, Illinois (Quad Cities) WQAD-TV ++ 8 (38) 2013 ABC
Bloomington, Indiana WTTV 4 (48) 2002 The CW
Indianapolis WXIN ¤¤ 59 (45) 1997 Fox
Kokomo, Indiana WTTK
(satellite of WTTV)
29 (29) 2002 The CW
Des Moines WHO-DT ++ 13 (13) 2013 NBC
New Orleans WGNO 26 (26) 1983 ABC
WNOL-TV 38 (15) 1999 The CW
Grand Rapids - Battle Creek -
Kalamazoo, MI
WXMI 17 (19) 1998 Fox
Kansas City, Missouri WDAF-TV ++ 4 (34) 2013 Fox
St. Louis KTVI ++ 2 (43) 2013 Fox
KPLR-TV 11 (26) 2003 The CW
New York City WPIX ** 11 (11) 1948 The CW
High Point - Greensboro -
Winston-Salem
WGHP ++ 8 (35) 2013 Fox
Cleveland - Akron WJW ++ 8 (8) 2013 Fox
Oklahoma City KFOR-TV ++ 4 (27) 2013 NBC
KAUT-TV ++ 43 (40) 2013 Independent
Salem - Portland, OR KRCW-TV 32 (33) 2003 The CW
Philadelphia WPHL-TV 17 (17) 1992 MyNetworkTV
Scranton - Wilkes Barre WNEP-TV ++ 1 16 (50) 2013 ABC
York - Harrisburg -
Lancaster - Lebanon, PA
WPMT ¤¤ 43 (47) 1997 Fox
Memphis WREG-TV ++ 3 (28) 2013 CBS
Dallas - Fort Worth KDAF ¤¤ 33 (32) 1997 The CW
Houston KIAH 39 (38) 1995 The CW
Salt Lake City KSTU ++ 13 (28) 2013 Fox
Norfolk - Portsmouth, VA
(Hampton Roads)
WTKR ++ 1 3 (40) 2013 CBS
WGNT ++ 1 27 (50) 2013 The CW
Richmond WTVR-TV ++ 6 (25) 2013 CBS
Tacoma - Seattle KCPQ 13 (13) 1999 Fox
KZJO 22 (25) 1998 MyNetworkTV
Milwaukee WITI ++ 6 (33) 2013 Fox

Other Notes:

  • 1 Owned by Dreamcatcher Broadcasting, LLC, Tribune operate these stations through a shared services agreement.

Radio stations[edit]

AM Station FM Station
City of License/Market Station/
Frequency
Owned Since Current Format
Chicago WGN-720 1924 Talk
WGWG-LP-87.7 1 Sports

Notes:

  • 1 WGWG-LP is owned by Venture Technologies Group, and operated by Tribune under a local marketing agreement. Tribune will hold the LMA until 2015, the FCC's deadline for converting low-power television stations to digital broadcasting; although licensed as a television station on channel 6, WGWG-LP is operated as a radio station.[22]

Former Tribune-owned stations[edit]

Stations are arranged by state and city of license.

Television stations[edit]

City of license / Market Station Channel TV (RF) Years Owned Current Ownership Status
Atlanta WGNX 46 (19) 1983–1999 CBS affiliate, WGCL-TV, owned by Meredith Corporation
WATL 36 (25) 1999–2006 MyNetworkTV affiliate owned by Gannett Company
Cambridge - Boston, MA WLVI-TV 56 (41) 1994–2006 The CW affiliate owned by Sunbeam Television
Duluth, MN - Superior, WI KDAL-TV 3 (33) 1960–1978 CBS affiliate, KDLH, owned by Malara Broadcasting
(operated under LMA by Granite Broadcasting)
Schenectady - Albany - Troy, NY WEWB/WCWN 45 (43) 1999–2006 The CW affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group

Radio stations[edit]

AM Stations FM Stations
City of License/Market Station/
Frequency
Years owned Current Ownership
Sacramento KGNR-1320
(now KCTC)
1975–1996 Entercom Communications
KCTC-96.1
(now KYMX)
1975–1996 CBS Radio
Denver – Boulder KEZW-1430 Entercom Communications
KKHK-99.5
(now KQMT)
Entercom Communications
KOSI-101.1 Entercom Communications
Bridgeport, Connecticut WICC-600 1967–1989 Cumulus Media
Chicago WFMT-98.7 1968–1970 Window to the World Communications
Duluth, MN - Superior, WI KDAL-610 1960–1981 Midwest Communications
New York City WPIX-FM/WQCD-101.9
(now WFAN-FM)
1963–1997 CBS Radio

Carriage controversies[edit]

April 2012 DirecTV dispute[edit]

At midnight ET on April 1, 2012, Tribune's carriage agreement with DirecTV ended, resulting in all 23 Tribune Broadcasting-owned stations and WGN America to be pulled from the satellite provider at midnight in the respective time zones of the markets carrying the broadcast stations. Tribune was seeking retransmission consent payments from DirecTV, which under previous carriage agreements, the company received for carriage of WGN America, but not for its local broadcast stations.[23] On April 3, 2012, DirecTV filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission claiming that Tribune Company representatives had negotiated in bad faith and that the company had inappropriately transferred control over its broadcast licenses to its bankruptcy creditors.[24] The dispute lasted four days, ending on April 5, 2012, when the two companies reached a new carriage agreement for the Tribune Broadcasting stations and WGN America (the stations were restored to DirecTV subscribers at 9 p.m. ET that evening); DirecTV's complaint to the FCC against Tribune was dropped as part of the agreement.[25]

August 2012 Cablevision dispute[edit]

At midnight ET on August 16, 2012, Tribune's carriage agreement with Cablevision expired, resulting in WPIX, WCCT, and WPHL being pulled from Cablevision systems in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Additionally, KWGN-TV was pulled from Optimum West systems in Colorado and Wyoming.[26] Cablevision accused Tribune of demanding higher carriage fees (that Cablevision claimed totaled in the tens of millions of dollars) to be used to help pay off debt, and alleged that it illegally bundled carriage agreements for WPIX and Hartford's WTIC-TV (which was initially unaffected, unlike sister station WCCT, due to a separate carriage agreement but was later pulled from Cablevision's Connecticut systems as well), which the company denied, stating its approach complied with FCC regulations.[27] The stations and WGN America (which was also dropped due to the dispute) were restored through a new carriage agreement that was reached on October 26, following a plea by Connecticut State Senator Gayle Slossberg for the FCC to intervene in the dispute.[28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "KWGN(TV) starts with a bang." Broadcasting, March 14, 1966, pg. 58. [1]
  2. ^ "In brief." Broadcasting, November 14, 1980, pg. 34
  3. ^ Tribune, minority group on TV station Qwest; new company's first buys are WATL-TV Atlanta and WNOL-TV New Orleans, Broadcasting & Cable, November 21, 1994. Retrieved July 20, 2013 from HighBeam Research.
  4. ^ BREAKFAST BRIEFING // CHICAGO, Chicago Sun-Times, November 10, 1999. Retrieved July 23, 2013 from HighBeam Research.
  5. ^ Tribune Broadcasting Joins with Warner Bros. to Launch Fifth Television Network, TheFreeLibrary.com. Retrieved 12-10-2010.
  6. ^ Tribune Co. Looks to Boost Role in TV with Offer for Six Stations, Los Angeles Daily News, July 2, 1996. Retrieved July 20, 2013 from HighBeam Research.
  7. ^ UPN and WB to Combine, Forming New TV Network, The New York Times, January 24, 2006.
  8. ^ Zell buys Tribune Co., Cubs to be sold, CNNMoney, April 3, 2007. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
  9. ^ "Tribune Interactive, Schurz in Web Deal". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  10. ^ Radio Daze: Tribune Gang Sets Out to Reinvent TV, Broadcasting & Cable, April 13, 2008.
  11. ^ "Tribune and Local TV to Form Broadcast Management Company" (Press release). Tribune Company. 2007-12-20. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  12. ^ "Tribune Company to Voluntarily Restructure Debt Under Chapter 11" (Press release). Tribune Company. 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2008-12-08. "Tribune Company to Voluntarily Restructure Debt Under Chapter 11. Publishing, Interactive and Broadcasting Businesses to Continue Operations. Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field Not Part of Chapter 11 Filing; Monetization Efforts to Continue" 
  13. ^ Albiniak, Paige (August 30, 2010). "Tribune Launching Classic TV Multicast Network". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  14. ^ Malone, Michael (May 14, 2013). "Tribune Replaces Weigel As Partner on This TV". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Acquisition to make Tribune Co. largest U.S. TV station operator". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  16. ^ "Tribune to Put Local TV's WNEP Scranton, Norfolk Stations Up for Sale". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  17. ^ FCC expected to propose dropping UHF discount from TV ownership caps, Los Angeles Times, September 25, 2013.
  18. ^ FCC OKs Tribune Co.'s agreement to buy Local TV Holdings, Crain's Chicago Business, December 20, 2013.
  19. ^ Company Completes Final Steps of Transaction Announced in July, Tribune Company, 27 December, 2013
  20. ^ Tribune Re-Launching Studio With Matt Cherniss at Helm, Broadcasting & Cable, March 19, 2013.
  21. ^ Tribune Radio Network website
  22. ^ Channick, Robert (February 17, 2014). "WGN launching FM sports talk station 'The Game'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  23. ^ Subscribers to lose programming after Tribune Broadcasting fails to agree on settlement with DirecTV, Fox News Channel (via the Associated Press), April 1, 2012.
  24. ^ DirecTV files FCC complaint against Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business, April 2, 2012.
  25. ^ Tribune Co. reaches deal with DirecTV -- in time for Cubs opener, Chicago Tribune, April 5, 2012.
  26. ^ Tribune stations go dark on Cablevision, Variety, August 16, 2012.
  27. ^ Spangler, Tom (17 August 2012). "Cablevision Charges Tribune With 'Illegally Tying' Stations Deals; Broadcaster Says Its Approach Is Lawful and Complies with FCC Good-Faith Rules". Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  28. ^ Cablevision, Tribune end retrans spat, Variety, October 26, 2012.