It's no April Fool's joke: A dispute over the price of retransmitting television signals over pay TV services has hit DirecTV subscribers as Tribune has pulled all of its local broadcast stations across the country off the service, including Grand Rapids' FOX affiliate WXMI-TV Ch. 17. The dispute includes a total 23 broadcast stations as well as Tribune's WGN America.
West Michigan DirecTV subscribers lost FOX 17 as of midnight when the previous agreement expired. The station is available over-the-air via an outdoor antenna to viewers with the proper equipment within the station's service area.
The outage will likely receive a lot of attention later this afternoon when NASCAR fans attempt to watch FOX's coverage of a Sprint Cup race, but will instead discover that once again a fight between large conglomerates claims viewers as victims in the fight. American Idol, Glee, and viewers of other FOX programming will be next to discover the issue.
Tribune has established a web site for viewers with ways to communicate their dismay over the situation; FOX 17 viewers should visit www.telldirectv.com/fox17/
DirecTV counters with its own site: www.DirectvPromise.com
• Coverage from the Chicago Tribune: Tribune Co. pulls its programming from DirecTV after midnight deadline (Sun, 4/1)
• Coverage from the MLive.com: Michigan DirecTV customers lose Fox 17 after Tribune Broadcasting talks break down (Sun, 4/1)