TWC-CBS Blackout Reaches Fourth Week

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The Time Warner Cable-CBS retransmission-consent impasse entered its fourth week last Friday, with little hope that a deal could be reached soon, even as the start of the National Football League regular season looms closer.

CBS programming went dark to about 3.2 million Time Warner Cable customers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas on Aug. 2. Since that time, both sides have kicked up the rhetoric, but at press time, it appeared as if the impasse would continue.

According to sources inside the cable and broadcasting communities, the stalemate appears to be over digital rights for CBS programming, not the reported $2 per subscriber per month the broadcaster is reportedly demanding.

Last Monday (Aug. 26), a Federal Communications Commission spokesman said that acting commissioner Mignon Clyburn was investigating ways for the agency to help resolve the dispute. While the FCC would not elaborate on how it would do that, it is empowered to interevne if one of the parties is determined to not be negotiating in good faith.

According to one source familiar with the negotiations, the FCC’s involvement has been limited so far, consisting of two phone calls from the agency to TWC.

Last Friday (Aug. 30), the Los Angeles City Council was due to debate a resolution asking the FCC to intervene. For the time being, though, both sides are expected to keep negotiating through the Labor Day weekend, and have insisted talks are not tied to any particular sports event or programming.

Most analysts have anticipated that the fight would be over before the NFL regular season begins on Sept. 5. CBS, which airs American Football Conference matchups, is scheduled to air its first game on Sept. 8, which in the New York area would likely be a match between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills.

Last week, CBS began running spots warning TWC cable subscribers they could miss one of the most anticipated games of the season — the Sept. 15 contest between Eli Manning’s New York Giants and his brother Peyton’s Denver Broncos.


The TWC-CBS retransmission dispute raged on as the NFL readied for opening day.