The Chicago Cubs are teaming with Sinclair Broadcast Group to launch a regional sports network in February 2020 that will become the exclusive television home of the Cubs.,It marks the end of more than 70 years of over-the-air broadcasts for the Cubs, and the beginning of an ambitious endeavor to sell cable and satellite providers on the value of the carrying the new regional network — no sure thing in an increasingly fragmented world of cable TV.,But if all goes according to plan and cable providers from Southwest Michigan to Iowa — Major League Baseball’s designated home broadcast turf for the team — agree to carry the new network, viewers will have no choice but to watch local Cubs games on pay TV.,Having their own channel will enable the Cubs to have all of their programming in one place, versus splitting the games between two broadcast stations — WGN-Ch.9 and WLS-Ch.7 — and sharing coverage with the Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox on NBC Sports Chicago, formerly Comcast SportsNet, the regional sports network formed in 2004.,But in the five years since the Cubs planted the seed of the regional sports network, the pay-TV landscape has changed dramatically, with cord cutting and skinny bundles squeezing the carriage fees cable companies are willing to pay for even sports, long the most valuable programming commodity.

But unlike HBO and “Game of Thrones,” WGN and the Cubs aren’t hyping their final season together after 72 years.,In my first year as Cubs beat writer in 1997, WGN televised 144 games.,The following January, the Cubs owners — Tribune Co. — decided to reduce the WGN schedule to 92 games, placing 62 games on CLTV, the company’s local cable news channel.,Fans gradually grew accustomed to watching more games on cable, and in 2003 the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks began their own sports channel, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, which is now NBC Sports Chicago.,WGN will televise the Cubs' season opener — likely for the last time »

'I have more confidence than last year': A healthy Yu Darvish eyes his return to dominance with the Cubs » read more

NEW YORK (AP) — In a story Jan. 16 about Sinclair Broadcast's new streaming service, The Associated Press reported erroneously on the company's ownership of national television networks and channels.,A corrected version of the story is below:

Sinclair Broadcast, the nation's largest owner of television stations, is launching a free, ad-supported streaming service.,The nation's largest owner of television stations launched a free, ad-supported streaming service Wednesday drawing on local news, sports and other programs from the 191 TV stations it owns in 89 U.S. markets.,Sinclair was admonished by media watchdogs in April after the sports news service Deadspin pieced together clips of dozens of TV anchors for Sinclair reading from the same script.,The Stirr service will also carry an online tennis channel called The T, along with networks it doesn't own, including Cheddar business news, NASA TV and the World Poker Tour. read more

LOS ANGELES, CA — Tribune Broadcasting television stations -- including KTLA5 in Los Angeles -- went dark on Charter Communications/Spectrum cable services Wednesday amid a contract dispute over the cost for the cable company to carry the channels.,In Los Angeles, KTLA went black on Spectrum cable shortly after 2 p.m., which was the expiration time of the previous contract for Spectrum to carry Tribune stations.,"We've offered Spectrum fair market rates for our top-rated local news, live sports and high-quality entertainment programming, and similarly fair rates for our cable network, WGN America," he said.,Charter Communications, however, has foisted blame for the dispute on Tribune Broadcasting, saying the media company is demanding the cable system pay triple the amount for the same programming it already carries.,According to Tribune Broadcasting, the blackout affects roughly 6 million cable customers who had access to local Tribune stations, while 14 million customers lost access to WGN America, the company's basic cable network.

Nearly three dozen Tribune Media television stations, including KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles, went dark Wednesday afternoon on Charter Communications Spectrum pay-TV service after the two companies failed to reach agreement on a new distribution deal.Customers in more than 6 million Charter Spectrum cable TV homes nationwide including 1.5 million in the Los Angeles region were swept up in the latest fee dispute between two major TV companies.,Theyre not being reasonable.Tribune Media has been demanding that Charter pay higher fees for the rights to retransmit the signals of 33 Tribune television stations in Charter Spectrum markets.,They are losing customers to cord-cutting and paying higher and higher fees for programming.Nielson added that Tribunes rates were considerably lower than other TV station owners, such as CBS or Nexstar Media Group Inc., which agreed in December to buy Tribune Media for $4.1 billion.,An impasse between Verizon Communications Inc. and TV broadcaster Tegna Inc. resulted in an outage Monday of network affiliate stations in Washington, D.C., Norfolk, Va., and Buffalo, N.Y. on Verizon Fios systems.Blackouts in 2018 were down from a record 213 outages in 2017, according to the American Television Alliance, a Washington lobbying group that represents pay-TV operators.The conflict is over so-called retransmission fees the money that cable, satellite TV and telephone companies must pay to broadcast local TV station signals as part of their channel lineups.,Television station owners in 2018 collected a combined $10 billion in such fees, up from $9.3 billion in 2017, according to the alliance.Charter and the Los Angeles Times are collaborating on a news magazine show called L.A. Times Today, which is scheduled to launch in February on Charter's Spectrum News 1 channel.

Charter Communications Inc., the third largest-U.S. pay-TV provider, had a midnight deadline Dec. 31 to renew a programming agreement with Tribune Media Co. or potentially lose local stations in 24 markets including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.,Because Tribune’s stations include Fox and CBS affiliates, the blackout could disrupt coverage of NCAA basketball games and NFL playoffs this weekend, starting with the Seattle Seahawks versus Dallas Cowboys Saturday in a game to be carried on Fox.,According to Tribune Broadcasting, the blackout affects roughly 6 million cable customers who had access to local Tribune stations, while 14 million customers lost access to WGN America, the company’s basic subscriber losses for the pay-TV industry in the third quarter have added to the pressure on media companies and cable and satellite operators during the current round of renewal talks.,Earlier this month, Nexstar Media Group Inc. agreed to buy Tribune Media for $4.1 billion, potentially surpassing Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and forming the largest local-TV broadcaster in the U.S. Tribune’s total of 42 stations include Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC affiliates, as well as CW and MyNetworkTV.,Charter has a big presence in Los Angeles, where Chicago-based Tribune’s KTLA is scheduled to broadcast the Tournament of Roses Parade New Year’s Day.

The dispute between Charter Communications and Fox 61 — as well as one involving Cox Communications and WTNH — threatens to take both stations off cable systems operated by the two companies just in time for New Year’s Day.,The dispute between Charter Communications and Fox 61 — as well as one involving Cox Communications and WTNH — threatens to take both stations off cable systems operated by the two companies just in time for New Year’s Day.,The dispute between Charter Communications and Fox 61 — as well as one involving Cox Communications and WTNH — ... more

Photo: Jeff Roberson read more

Charter Communications Spectrum customers could miss out on a holiday tradition: watching KTLA Channel 5s television coverage of the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.Charter and Chicago-based Tribune Media, which owns KTLA and 32 other television stations in Charter markets, including San Diego County, have spent the last few days trying to hammer out a new agreement under which Charter can transmit Tribunes station signals.,The two sides have been wrangling over key details of the carriage agreement, including a proposed fee hike by Tribune, with a looming deadline of 9 p.m. PT Monday thats New Years Eve.Without a new pact in place, or an agreement on a short-term extension, Charter would be forced to remove Tribune station signals from its cable lineup just hours before KTLA begins its marathon parade coverage.,2018 has been a bruising year for traditional pay-TV operators with the industry on track to lose 1.1 million customers this year, including more than 200,000 cable TV subscribers from Charter, according to recent estimates from MoffettNathanson Research.Weve offered Spectrum fair market rates for our top-rated local news, live sports and high-quality entertainment programming, and similarly fair rates for our cable network, WGN America, Tribune Media spokesman Gary Weitman said in a statement.,Disney-owned ABC stations in New York and Philadelphia would be included in the outage, however, Disney said this week that negotiations continue in earnest and we remain optimistic that we can reach a deal.In addition, station owner Nexstar Broadcasting Inc. is threatening to go dark on New Years Day on the small Madison, Wisc.-based TDS Telecom, which serves communities in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Texas and Oregon unless the companies reach a truce.There have been 137 television blackouts in 2018, including an unresolved and protracted dispute between satellite TV provider Dish Networks and Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications.,Television station owners this year will collect a combined $10 billion in such fees, up from $9.3 billion in 2017, according to the alliance.Retransmission fees have also been the sticking point in the current contract talks between Tribune and Charter, according to people close to the negotiations who were not authorized to comment publicly.The Tribune situation is not the only dispute that Charter is facing.The taxpayer-supported California Public Advocates Office filed a petition late last week to reopen the Public Utility Commissions approval of Charters 2016 takeover of Time Warner Cable, which turned Charter into the largest pay-TV operator in Southern California with about 1.8 million customer homes.The Public Advocates Office alleged in legal papers that Charter has not been forthcoming with information about how many homes in California now have access to internet download speeds of at least 300 megabits per second.

Beginning next week, TV customers on Verizon FiOS and Charter’s Spectrum service could be hit by widespread channel blackouts after the companies’ contracts with major programming giants expire.,Verizon’s 4.5 million TV customers could lose access to ESPN, Freeform and the Disney Channel and other networks belonging to Disney, as well as ABC affiliates based in Philadelphia and New York, on Dec. 31.,The contract fight between Verizon and Disney has spilled out into the public this week, with both companies sending out messages to customers notifying them who will be to blame if a new deal isn’t signed by the deadline.,Verizon began delivering emails to customers on Wednesday accusing Disney of trying to jack up its prices for content, as well as attempting to force Verizon TV subscribers to pay for an additional channel devoted to regional sports, the ACC Network.,NFL playoffs could also become harder to access for Spectrum customers as a result of its dispute with Tribune, according to a company spokesman, because Tribune operates CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates in various markets.