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 »

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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.