Blackout Averted, Time Warner Cable and CBS Talk, Feud, Extend Deadline

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Time Warner Cable ( TWC) and CBS ( CBS) agreed to extend talks for a new retransmission consent agreement yet again, this time until Friday at 5 p.m. EDT.

Time Warner Cable, the country's second-largest cable-TV provider, was on the verge of removing CBS programming from customers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and some smaller areas in other cities after all-day talks on Monday failed to produce an agreement.

In an e-mail statement sent by Time Warner spokeswoman Maureen Huff, the company said "the outrageous demands for fees by CBS Corp. have forced Time Warner Cable to remove several of its networks and broadcast stations from our customers' lineups."

But 29 minutes later, Huff sent yet another e-mail explaining that "at the request of CBS, we have halted going dark on their channels."

The deadline for an agreement has been repeatedly extended since June 30.

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.

The talks are being closely watched by the television industry as whatever CBS is able to extract from Time Warner Cable is likely to become a starting point for similar negotiations between pay-TV providers and other programmers, including Time Warner ( TWX) and Discovery Communications ( DISCA).

Content providers have demonstrated in recent years that they have the upper hand in talks with distributors. After a similarly public and contentious war-of-words nearly three years ago, Cablevision Systems ( CVC) gave in to demands from Fox Networks, a unit of the company now known as 21st Century Fox ( FOXA) after a two-week blackout, punctuated by Cablevision viewers losing reception of the first two games of the 2010 World Series and a New York Giants football game.

Written by Leon Lazaroff in New York

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

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