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Time Warner Cable Extends Deadline by Three Hours as CBS Talks Continue

Updated from 5:06 ET with additional information.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Time Warner Cable (TWC) and CBS (CBS) agreed to extend talks for a new retransmission consent agreement to 8 p.m. EDT, extending by three hours a deadline that could force a blackout of the network's programming in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and some smaller areas in other cities.

The announcement to extend the deadline from 5 p.m. EDT for three hours was made by both companies in emails.

At issue are fees that Time Warner Cable must pay to CBS to carry programming in regions where the network owns local television stations. These so-called retransmission fees have been rising in recent years as programming costs have increased along with total viewers.

"This is just the latest of these high-profile disputes and it's probably not the last," Robin Flynn, a senior analyst at SNL Kagan said in a phone interview from Monterey, Calif. "As programming increases across the board, broadcasters as well as cable-TV networks are increasingly drawing the line, and in this case, because it is a major deal involving major markets, Time Warner Cable chose to dig in its heals."

Whatever CBS is able to extract from Time Warner Cable is likely to become a starting point for similar negotiations the pay-TV provider is scheduled to have in the coming years with other programmers, including Time Warner (TWX) and Discovery Communications (DISCA).

As content providers demonstrate that they have won the upper hand in talks with distributors, pressure grows on pay-TV providers to merge in hopes of amassing sufficient clout to withstand the steady increase in retransmission fees. Time Warner Cable is said to be considering a deal to combine with Charter Communications (CHTR).

"While content's winning streak appears safe, consolidation among its distributors could threaten that streak," Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne said in an investor note published on Monday. "Should 'bigger is better' become a trend among distributors, it is likely to spur consolidation among media owners as well."

Shares of Time Warner fell 1.4% to $115.23 while CBS slid 2.1% to $52.39. The S&P 500 dropped to its lowest level in almost two weeks, losing 0.4% to 1,685.34, trimming the index's gain this year to 18%.

Written by Leon Lazaroff in New York

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: LeonLazaroff.>.

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