NEW YORK (AP) — Tribune Broadcasting is denying that it has reached a settlement with satellite television provider DirecTV Inc. in their contract negotiations. This means that DirecTV subscribers in 16 U.S. markets may lose access to certain programming at midnight.
DirecTV said in a statement on Saturday that it has accepted the financial terms that Tribune's management offered it by telephone two days ago. A deal would allow DirecTV to carry Tribune's 23 local broadcast stations so that customers would not lose their programming when the current agreement between the two companies expires.
But Tribune came out with its own statement shortly after on Saturday, saying that it has not reached a deal or come to terms with DirecTV on any aspect of the contract.
"Any statement by DirecTV to the contrary is inaccurate and misleading," Tribune said.
DirecTV fired back, saying in another statement that it had a handshake deal with Tribune on Thursday with an agreed upon rate for their channels.
"Their actions are the true definition of 'bad faith' in every sense of the term," DirecTV said.
The satellite television provider also wondered whether Tribune was having difficulty negotiating because of its bankruptcy process.
"Threatening station blackouts to extract an exorbitant fee for all of Tribune's content may provide an improved return for certain banks and hedge funds, but is not in the interest of its viewers and is not a cure for bankruptcy," DirectTV said.
Negotiations have been ongoing for months. Tribune said earlier this week that 16 markets would be affected if the contract terms are not settled. These markets include New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia.
If a deal is not reached, DirecTV subscribers in the markets where Tribune owns the local Fox affiliate will lose access to programs such as "American Idol" and Major League Baseball. Where Tribune owns the local affiliate of The CW Network, DirecTV subscribers will be unable to see shows such as "Gossip Girl" and "Vampire Diaries."
Tribune Broadcasting President Nils Larsen said in a statement on Thursday that if an agreement is not reached before the contract expires, DirecTV subscribers will still be able to watch programs on broadcast stations for free in high definition with a TV antenna or by signing up with an alternative pay-TV provider.
Tribune's broadcasting group owns or runs 23 television stations, WGN America on national cable and Chicago radio station WGN-AM. Its publishing arm includes daily newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun.
DirecTV serves 32 million people in the U.S. and Latin America.