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Tribune Broadcasting Company
Genre "Media company
Fate To be acquired by "Sinclair Broadcast Group
  • WGN Incorporated
  • (1924–1966)
  • WGN Continental Broadcasting Company
  • (1966–1981)
Founded 1981; 37 years ago (1981) in "Chicago, "Illinois, "United States
Headquarters "435 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, "United States
Area served
United States
Key people
"Divisions "Tribune Studios
Website www.tribunemedia.com

Tribune Broadcasting Company, LLC is an "American "media company which operates as a subsidiary of "Tribune Media, a media conglomerate based in "Chicago, Illinois. The group owns and/or operates 43 "broadcast "television stations and one "radio station throughout the United States; it also holds full or partial ownership of three "cable television and two national "digital subchannel networks.



Tribune Broadcasting logo used from 1995 to August 4, 2014.

Tribune Broadcasting's development originated with the June 1924 purchase of Chicago, Illinois radio station WDAP (720 AM) 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." The Tribune would launch a television station in Chicago, "WGN-TV (channel 9), in April 1948 as a dual affiliate of "CBS and the "DuMont Television Network. Two months later, the Tribune's then-sibling newspaper in "New York City, the "Daily News, established its own television station, "WPIX (channel 11) – which launched without a "network affiliation as all four broadcast networks at the time ("ABC, "NBC, "CBS and DuMont) had already "owned other stations in the "market.

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 "Chicagoland Television (CLTV), a regional cable news channel for the "Chicago area, which originally operated separately from the company's other Chicago media properties until it merged its operations with WGN-TV's news department in 2009. 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]

In January 1995, Tribune Broadcasting became a partner in "The WB Television Network, in a "joint venture with the "Warner Bros. Television division of "Time Warner.[5] Tribune initially had a 12.5% ownership interest in the network at its launch and later increased its stake to 22%. In addition, partly as a result of a November 1993 affiliation deal with the network, 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 (including "three "that were "sold off to other companies later that year) 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, as part of its filing for "Chapter 11 "bankruptcy protection 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, 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 number 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 from 1995 onward, affiliates of networks that have launched since 1986; "New Orleans station "WGNO (channel 26) – 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 (channel 3) and "WGNT (channel 27), and "Scranton, Pennsylvania station "WNEP-TV (channel 16) – were sold to Dreamcatcher Broadcasting and are operated by Tribune under shared services agreements (Tribune has an option to 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 "Federal Communications Commission approved the acquisition on December 20,[18] and the sale was completed one week later on December 27.[19]

On February 29, 2016, Tribune Media announced that it would review various "strategic alternatives" to increase the company's value to shareholders, which include a possible sale of the entire company and/or select assets, or the formation of programming alliances or strategic partnerships with other companies, due to the decrease in its stock price since the Tribune Publishing spin-off and a $385 million revenue write-down for the 2015 fiscal year, partly due to original scripted programming expenditures for WGN America since it converted the cable network from a superstation in 2014.[20][21][22][23]

With the FCC reinstating the "UHF discount" rule, reports surfaced in late April 2017 that multiple parties were attempting to make offers for Tribune, including "Sinclair Broadcast Group, "Nexstar Media Group, and a partnership between "21st Century Fox and "Blackstone Group.[24][25][26][27] On May 7, 2017, it was reported that Sinclair Broadcast Group is nearing a deal to purchase Tribune Media,[28][29] and that 21st Century Fox had dropped its bid for the company.[30][31]

On May 8, 2017, Sinclair Broadcast Group officially announced its intent to acquire Tribune Media. The transaction will be a cash-and-stock deal valuing the company at $3.9 billion. Depending on regulatory changes or decisions, some divestitures may be required.[32]

Television production and distribution[edit]

Tribune Entertainment[edit]

Tribune Entertainment was Tribune's television production, syndication and advertising sales subsidiary. Founded in 1981, this subsidiary produced and/or distributed several first-run syndicated programs including most notably "Geraldo, "Soul Train and the "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 its return to television production with the formation of 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.[33]

Tribune-owned stations[edit]

As of April 2015, 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), 12 with "The CW and three with "MyNetworkTV. In addition, the company owns five "CBS affiliates (not counting a satellite of "WTTV), 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.

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.[34] Its primary features are farm reports from longtime WGN agriculture broadcasters "Orion Samuelson and "Max Armstrong. Tribune Radio Network formerly handled distribution of the "Chicago Cubs Radio Network to its affiliates until the 2014 season, when the Cubs radio broadcasts in Chicago moved to "WBBM radio in 2015, then "WSCR in 2016; as a result, affiliate distribution of the Chicago Cubs Radio Network to its partner stations is now handled by "Entercom. 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.


"City of license / "Market Station Channel
"TV ("RF)
Owned since Primary affiliation
"Huntsville – "Decatur, Alabama "WHNT-TV ++ 19 (19) 2013 "CBS
"Fort Smith – "Fayetteville, Arkansas "KFSM-TV ++ 5 (18) 2013 CBS
"KXNW ++ 34 (34) 2013 "MyNetworkTV
"Los Angeles, California "KTLA 5 (31) 1985 "The CW
"Sacramento – "Stockton – "Modesto,


"KTXL ¤¤ 40 (40) 1997 "Fox
"San Diego, California "KSWB-TV 69 (19) 1996 Fox
"Denver, Colorado "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, Connecticut "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, Florida "WSFL-TV ¤¤ 39 (19) 1997 The CW
"Chicago, Illinois "WGN-TV ** 9 (19) 1948 Independent
"Moline, Illinois ("Quad Cities) "WQAD-TV ++ 8 (38) 2013 "ABC
"Bloomington, Indiana "WTTV ¤¤ 4 (48) 2002 CBS
"Indianapolis, Indiana "WXIN 59 (45) 1997 Fox
"Kokomo, Indiana WTTK
(satellite of WTTV)
29 (29) 2002 CBS
"Des Moines, Iowa "WHO-DT ++ 13 (13) 2013 "NBC
"New Orleans, Louisiana "WGNO 26 (26) 1983 ABC
"WNOL-TV 38 (15) 1999 The CW
"Grand Rapids – "Battle Creek -
"Kalamazoo, Michigan
"WXMI 17 (19) 1998 Fox
"Kansas City, Missouri "WDAF-TV ++ 4 (34) 2013 Fox
"St. Louis, Missouri "KTVI ++ 2 (43) 2013 Fox
"KPLR-TV 11 (26) 2003 The CW
"New York City, New York "WPIX ** 11 (11) 1948 The CW
"High Point – "Greensboro -
"Winston-Salem, North Carolina
"WGHP ++ 8 (35) 2013 Fox
"Cleveland – "Akron, Ohio "WJW ++ 8 (8) 2013 Fox
"Oklahoma City, Oklahoma "KFOR-TV ++ 4 (27) 2013 NBC
"KAUT-TV ++ 43 (40) 2013 "Independent
"Salem – "Portland, OR "KRCW-TV 32 (33) 2003 The CW
"Philadelphia, Pennsylvania "WPHL-TV 17 (17) 1992 MyNetworkTV
"Scranton – "Wilkes Barre,


"WNEP-TV ++ ‡‡ 16 (50) 2013 ABC
"York – "Harrisburg -
"Lancaster – "Lebanon, PA
"WPMT ¤¤ 43 (47) 1997 Fox
"Memphis, Tennessee "WREG-TV ++ 3 (28) 2013 CBS
"Dallas – "Fort Worth, Texas "KDAF ¤¤ 33 (32) 1997 The CW
"Houston, Texas "KIAH 39 (38) 1995 The CW
"Salt Lake City, Utah "KSTU ++ 13 (28) 2013 Fox
"Norfolk – "Portsmouth, Virginia
("Hampton Roads)
"WTKR ++ ‡‡ 3 (40) 2013 CBS
"WGNT ++ ‡‡ 27 (50) 2013 The CW
"Richmond, Virginia "WTVR-TV ++ 6 (25) 2013 CBS
"Tacoma – "Seattle, Washington "KCPQ 13 (13) 1999 Fox
"KZJO 22 (25) 1998 MyNetworkTV
"Milwaukee, Wisconsin "WITI ++ 6 (33) 2013 Fox

Radio stations[edit]

AM Station FM Station
City of license/Market Station/
Owned since Current format
Chicago, Illinois "WGN–720 1924 "Talk
Milwaukee, Wisconsin "WMIL-FM HD3 1 WITI-TV audio


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, Georgia WGNX 46 (19) 1983–1999 "CBS affiliate, "WGCL-TV, owned by "Meredith Corporation
"WATL 36 (25) 1999–2006 "MyNetworkTV affiliate owned by "Tegna, Inc.
"Cambridge – "Boston, Massachusetts "WLVI-TV 56 (41) 1994–2006 "The CW affiliate owned by "Sunbeam Television
"Duluth, Minnesota – "Superior, Wisconsin KDAL-TV 3 (33) 1960–1978 The CW affiliate, "KDLH, owned by "SagamoreHill Broadcasting
"Schenectady – "Albany – "Troy, New York "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/
Years owned Current ownership
"Sacramento, California KGNR-1320
(now "KIFM)
1975–1996 "Entercom Communications
(now "KYMX)
1975–1996 TDC Communications
(operated by "Bonneville International under a "local marketing agreement)
"Denver – "Boulder, Colorado "KEZW-1430 1993–2002 Entercom Communications
(now "KQMT)
1995–2002 Entercom Communications
"KOSI-101.1 1993–2002 "Bonneville International
"Bridgeport, Connecticut "WICC-600 1967–1989 "Cumulus Media
"Chicago, Illinois "WFMT-98.7 1968–1970 "Window to the World Communications
(now "WRME-LP)
1 1
"Duluth, Minnesota – "Superior, Wisconsin "KDAL-610 1960–1981 "Midwest Communications
"New York City, New York WPIX-FM/WQCD-101.9
(now "WFAN-FM)
1963–1997 Entercom Communications


Other assets[edit]

Tribune Broadcasting owns "WGN America, a basic cable/satellite channel that operated as a superstation feed of "flagship station "WGN-TV until December 2014 (one of four "superstations owned by Tribune, along with remaining Tribune superstations "KTLA, "KWGN-TV and "WPIX).

It owns 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).

Tribune Broadcasting also owns two "digital multicast networks: "This TV (launched in 2008, 50%), which airs television series), and "Antenna TV (100%, launched in 2010), which airs movies and children's programming.

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.[40] 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.[41] 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 9:00 p.m. ET that evening); DirecTV's complaint to the FCC against Tribune was dropped as part of the agreement.[42]

August 2012 Cablevision dispute[edit]

At midnight Eastern Time on August 16, 2012, Tribune's carriage agreement with "Cablevision expired, resulting in New York City's WPIX, Hartford's "WCCT-TV and Philadelphia's "WPHL-TV 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 (which were sold to "Charter Communications in 2013).[43] 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.[44] 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.[45]

June 2016 DISH dispute[edit]

Tribune's carriage agreement with DISH and Tribune-affiliated "ABC, "CBS, "The CW, "FOX, & "NBC over-the-air stations expired on June 12, 2016.[46]

Unable to come to terms on a new distribution agreement, Tribune Media Co. said its 42 television stations and the WGN America cable channel had gone dark on satellite broadcaster Dish Network Corp. Approximately 5 million Dish subscribers in 33 markets across 34 states and the District of Columbia lost access to local TV stations owned by Tribune late Sunday. About 7 million aren’t receiving the WGN America network.

At issue are fees Tribune is seeking for carriage of its stations and WGN America. In a statement, Dish Network said Tribune was demanding an unreasonable price increase for its local channels, which are available free with an antenna. In addition, an increase for WGN America isn’t warranted because the channel no longer carries Chicago Cubs games and its ratings are down in Dish homes, the satellite broadcaster said.

“Tribune is using local viewers as leverage to raise rates for WGN America—a channel that is in decline,” said Warren Schlichting, executive vice president of programming for Dish.

Dish has offered to provide free antennas to its customers so they can receive the Tribune television stations. Tribune owns or operates 42 stations in many of the nation’s biggest markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Many of its stations are affiliated with the CW Network but it also owns affiliates of CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox.

Tribune said the deal it offered Dish was the same one it has with other pay-TV distributors. ”Dish refuses to reach an agreement based on fair-market value,” said Tribune Media spokesman Gary Weitman.

Both companies said they were willing to extend the current agreement but neither side could even agree on terms for that.

Such fights over distribution fees have become commonplace in the television industry. Tribune has been seeking increases for WGN America as part of its plan to transition the channel from one that was highly dependent on reruns and Chicago sports to a network with lots of original programming that can compete with channels such as FX and AMC."[47]

On September 3, Tribune and Dish came to a long term agreement ending the 3 month long dispute.


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  2. ^ "In brief." Broadcasting, November 14, 1980, pg. 34["permanent dead link]
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  4. ^ BREAKFAST BRIEFING // CHICAGO, "Chicago Sun-Times, November 10, 1999. Retrieved July 23, 2013 from HighBeam Research.
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  10. ^ Radio Daze: Tribune Gang Sets Out to Reinvent TV, "Broadcasting & Cable, April 13, 2008.
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  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. 
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  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 Archived 2013-12-28 at the "Wayback Machine., Tribune Company, 27 December, 2013
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  28. ^ Baker, Liana; Toonkel, Jessica (May 7, 2017). "Exclusive: Sinclair Broadcast nears deal for Tribune Media". Reuters. Retrieved May 7, 2017. 
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  30. ^ Merced, Michael (May 7, 2017). "Sinclair Is Said to Be Near a Deal for Tribune Media". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2017. 
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  33. ^ Tribune Re-Launching Studio With Matt Cherniss at Helm, Broadcasting & Cable, March 19, 2013.
  34. ^ Tribune Radio Network website
  35. ^ Accord puts Channel 6 weather, news on Clear Channel radio stations
  36. ^ Feder, Robert (December 30, 2014). "Weigel Broadcasting to become radio active on 87.7 FM". RobertFeder.com. Retrieved December 30, 2014. 
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  40. ^ Subscribers to lose programming after Tribune Broadcasting fails to agree on settlement with DirecTV, "Fox News Channel (via the "Associated Press), April 1, 2012.
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  46. ^ http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dish-totally-unresponsive-in-negotiations-with-tribune-broadcasting-300285151.html
  47. ^ https://www.wsj.com/articles/tribune-tv-stations-blacked-out-on-dish-network-over-dispute-1465797307
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