* Fox, Time Warner Cable ink "comprehensive" deal
* News Corp says deal recognizes value of programming
* Time Warner Cable CEO calls it a "reasonable deal"
* Cablevision says Scripps pulls Food Network, HGTV
(Recasts, updates throughout with agreement, CEO comments)
By Yinka Adegoke
NEW YORK, Jan 1 Time Warner Cable TWC.N on
Friday reached a deal to keep carrying Fox Networks programming
after the companies negotiated through New Year's Day to avoid
a blackout of TV shows like "The Simpsons" and college and NFL
football games in 13 million U.S. homes.
The No. 2 U.S. cable carrier and Fox, a News Corp (NWSA.O)
unit, announced the deal after an 11th-hour contract extension
following months of negotiations that failed to produce a deal
ahead of a midnight deadline.
Terms were not disclosed in a joint statement announcing
the deal, and neither side would share details.
The dispute had focused on how much Time Warner Cable
should pay for the right to deliver the Fox network, which is
broadcast for free over public airwaves, to its cable
subscribers in big cities like New York and Los Angeles.
News Corp, controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, had
been targeting around $1 a month per subscriber, a sum Time
Warner Cable had called "unreasonable". Time Warner Cable did
not say what it had offered, but privately, executives had
pointed to deals with smaller broadcasters for around 20-25
cents a subscriber.
In a short joint statement News Corp deputy chairman Chase
Carey described the new agreement as "fair" and said it
"recognizes the value of our programming".
Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Glenn Britt described the
new contract as a "reasonable deal".
Time Warner Cable was also negotiating on behalf of
privately held cable company Bright House Networks, which is
covered by the deal.
Both companies had waged aggressive marketing campaigns
seeking support from the affected subscribers, but neither side
was well-positioned for a long standoff.
Time Warner Cable faces stiff competition for video
customers from satellite providers and phone companies, and
would have been reluctant to lose popular shows like "American
Idol" which returns to Fox on Jan 12.
But Fox risked a loss in advertising revenue if more than
13 million homes were not able to see its shows.
Meanwhile, the prospect of sports fans being unable to
watch college and NFL football games on Fox's free-to-air
broadcast has attracted attention from the U.S. Federal
Communications Commission Chairman Julian Genachowski and
members of the U.S. Congress.
OTHER CABLE DISPUTES
Earlier on Friday, Time Warner Cable agreed to a short
extension of its existing contract with Scripps Networks
Interactive's SNI.N Food Network.
But another cable operator, Cablevision Systems Corp
CVC.N, with 3 million subscribers in the New York area, said
it had been unable to reach a new carriage agreement with
Scripps and dropped both Food Network and HGTV, the home and
Cablevision said in a statement it had "no expectations" of
carrying Scripps programming again.
The last-minute negotiations over how much cable operators
pay networks to distribute their programming are often
contentious. In 2008, Time Warner Cable went to the wire with
Viacom Inc VIAb.N on New Year's eve in a similar dispute.
In the last 12 months talks between cable operators and
program providers have become even more tense. Programmers have
been seeking better affiliate fees as they have seen
advertising revenue hurt by the U.S. economic downturn and
remain uncertain about the future of TV advertising as more
marketers turn to the Web.
(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by David Gregorio)