By Liana B. Baker
July 30 Time Warner Cable Inc has agreed
to keep the CBS network on the air in New York and Los Angeles
until the end of the week after it briefly blacked out CBS's
stations in some areas on Tuesday when the two sides failed to
reach an agreement.
Negotiations between CBS and Time Warner Cable
continued after midnight in New York, according to a spokeswoman
for the cable operator. The companies agreed to an extension
with CBS until Friday, Aug. 2, at 5 p.m. EDT.
A Time Warner spokeswoman confirmed that CBS had gone dark
in "some but not all areas" around midnight EDT, which deprived
those viewers of late-night CBS programming. It also pulled the
plug on other CBS-owned cable networks including Showtime, TMC,
Flix and Smithsonian from its lineups. But Time Warner later
said it had relented "at the request of CBS" and stopped the
process of blocking the CBS signal from its systems.
The action came after weeks of often contentious
negotiations over increases in fees that CBS receives from cable
and satellite operators.
CBS, which is the No. 1 rated U.S. television broadcast
network with shows such as "The Big Bang Theory" and "NCIS" has
never had a wide-scale blackout, it said.
Had Time Warner Cable not restored the signal when
negotiations resumed with CBS, an estimated 3.5 million Time
Warner cable subscribers would have been affected in cities such
as New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. It would not affect CBS
affiliate stations owned by other companies.
"We offered to pay reasonable increases, but CBS's demands
are out of line and unfair," Time Warner said in a statement.
"They want Time Warner Cable to pay more than others pay for the
At an event in Los Angeles on Monday night, CBS CEO Leslie
Moonves told reporters that "there's progress being made and
hopefully we don't go dark. We still believe our content is
worth a lot of money."
The threat of blackouts have become increasingly common as
networks, which provide programming, square off against cable
and satellite TV operators that pay retransmission fees to
transmit programs into homes around the country.
Last summer, satellite operator DirecTV's 20 million
customers were unable to receive Viacom's cable
networks, including Nickelodeon and MTV, for 10 days after those
companies failed to strike a new deal.
CBS's contract with Time Warner Cable expired in June and
the two sides have already extended the deadline twice. While
the companies negotiated, both ran TV commercials aimed at
getting the public on their side.
Time Warner Cable's spot accused CBS of giving New York a
"black eye," while CBS urged viewers to "say 'no' to Time Warner
Cable" and gave them Time Warner Cable's phone number.
The loss of advertising dollars would be somewhat less
painful for CBS during the summer, when networks air mostly
reruns and audience numbers drop. But if a blackout persisted
into August, CBS could lose audiences in the some of the
nation's largest markets for its reliably popular National
Football League games.
"If there was a time for this dispute to occur, it would be
in the late summer," Morningstar analyst Michael Corty said.
Time Warner Cable reminded subscribers in New York that they
sign up to receive CBS from media mogul Barry Diller's Aereo TV
service, which streams over the air broadcast signals to a
tablet or computer for $8 a month. Aereo pays CBS no fees.