How AT&T blackout is bad news for this Chicago station

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

AT&T and CBS’s retransmission battle is bad news for one Chicago TV station.

WBBM, the CBS O&O in the market, is one of the 17 stations where CBS has gone dark for 6.5 million DirecTV and Uverse customers in major markets nationwide.

The blackout is further bad news for the station, which lags in local news ratings — meaning it can’t even be seen in thousands of Chicago homes.

WBBM regularly finishes fourth in local news ratings, coming in behind independent station and local news powerhouse WGN in many timeslots.

The station made a surprise anchor change in March — with 12 year veteran Rob Johnson exiting the anchor desk and station.

Since then WBBM has been heavily promoting its new anchor duo (Irika Sargent remained at the anchor desk with investigative reporter Brad Edwards taking over Johnson’s chair) and a revived focus on “original reporting” and investigations.

The blackout comes at a key time for a station trying to reshape its image once again.

In addition to losing out on local news viewers, the DirecTV and Uverse customers can’t watch CBS network programming or the station’s lineup of syndicated shows, which includes “Love Island,” “Big Brother,” “Judge Judy” and “Dr. Phil.”

Not only does this leave confused (and angry) viewers, but WBBM misses out on the chance to promote its newscasts during more popular programming.

As the fall TV season and start of NFL football approaches, WBBM and other CBS O&Os could be hit harder by the blackout.

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