April 2, 2012 / 9:58 PM / in 6 years

DirecTV complains to FCC over Tribune dispute

(Reuters) - DirecTV filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission on Monday against Tribune Broadcasting Co for reneging on an agreement they had reached over carrying 23 local stations.

More than 5 million DirecTV customers lost access to Tribune’s 23 stations in 19 cities on midnight on Saturday.

DirecTV, the largest satellite TV provider in the United States, said it had reached an agreement in principle with Tribune by phone on Thursday after negotiating for months. Tribune later reneged on the deal, according to DirecTV’s Monday filing with the FCC.

DirecTV said Tribune told it that its creditors had forced Tribune’s management to go back on a deal they had struck last week. Tribune has been in bankruptcy protection since December 2008.

Some of Tribune’s creditors are hedge funds, Oaktree Capital Management and Angelo, Gordon & Co as well as banks JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.

Some of the stations blacked out to DirecTV subscribers in certain markets include WGN America and WPIX in New York.

DirecTV also said that Tribune transferred control of its broadcast licenses to its creditors without the approval of the FCC.

DirecTV said in a filing it is asking for “immediate intervention and expedited ruling against Tribune,” and for a one-month extension of its previous carriage agreement.

Tribune said in a statement that DirecTV’s claims are “nothing more than negotiating tactics in an attempt to unfairly disadvantage Tribune from receiving fair market compensation from DirecTV.”

Negotiations are at an impasse, DirecTV said in the filing.

DirecTV shares closed 60 cents higher by 1.21 percent to $49.94 on Monday.

Reporting By Liana B. Baker; editing by Martin Golan

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