In one of those contract disputes that pop up occasionally on the cable and satellite broadcasting scene, Northern Berkshire subscribers to Spectrum Cable have seen another station "go dark".

Contract negotiations between Spectrum's parent Charter and Tribune Broadcasting reached a stalemate Wednesday, which resulted in Tribune pulling their stations from Charter Spectrum lineups nationwide. According to deadline.com, 33 Tribune Broadcasting TV stations in 24 markets have gone dark on Charter Spectrum cable systems, affecting some 6 million viewers.  For us, that includes Tribune's own cable station WGN America. Viewers who tune to that station today are not getting their reruns of "Blue Bloods", "In the Heat of the Night" or any of the station's normal programming, but a recorded explanation of events from Spectrum's viewpoint.

Other stations affected by the dispute include New York's WPIX, and WTIC and WCCT from Hartford CT. Many of the stations air programming from the CW network, but others are ABC, CBS or FOX affiliates. Cable viewers in those markets are fretting over the possible loss of NFL playoff coverage this weekend.

These carriage disputes arise from the fact that cable and satellite operators pay broadcasting companies a fee to carry their programming across their systems. When renewal negotiations break down a war of words usually breaks out. In this case, Tribune's Gary Weitman was quoted as saying “We’ve offered Spectrum fair market rates (but they) refused our offer and failed to negotiate in a meaningful fashion.” Charter countered in a statement saying Tribune is “demanding an increase of more than double what we pay today for the same programming. They’re not being reasonable.” Stay tuned.