As TWC Dispute Continues, CBS Signs Verizon Renewal

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CBS broadcast stations in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas continued to be unavailable to Time Warner Cable customers there for a third week as of Aug. 22, even as CBS signed a longterm carriage deal with one of the cable company’s chief competitors in those markets.

A day after it agreed to a one-hour viewing window in New York that would allow TWC customers to watch candidates in the city’s elections debate on Aug. 22 and 28, CBS said it reached a three-year carriage deal with Verizon Communications’ FiOS TV.

The telco agreement includes CBS retransmission in its top markets and expanded carriage of cable channel CBS Sports Network. FiOS also has a long-term agreement for Showtime and Smithsonian Channel, which remain blacked out on TWC. Verizon’s CBS deal wasn’t due to expire until year-end.

In a memo to employees, CBS CEO Les Moonves said FiOS has 3.5 million customers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas — versus 3.2 million customers for Time Warner Cable — and reached a deal “swiftly and amicably in just a few days.”

Moonves said Verizon allowed the broadcaster to preserve its streaming rights, which according to sources familiar with the negotiations has been a sticking point in talks with TWC.

“I cannot describe to you the frustration I feel at the way these negotiations have gone,” Moonves said of TWC in the memo. He said the Verizon deal showed CBS is “prepared to move decisively and thoughtfully to achieve a good conclusion for all parties involved in these kinds of negotiations. When Time Warner Cable is ready, we’ll be there.”

Time Warner Cable officials declined comment.

Should the Democratic mayoral primary on Sept. 10 result in a runoff , CBS said it also would allow TWC customers in New York to see the Sept. 23 debate between Democratic mayoral candidates if the dispute, which began on Aug. 2, lasts that long.

While both sides said they are talking, TWC also said it is offering digital customers free access to the Tennis Channel (normally on a sports tier) to watch upcoming U.S. Open tennis coverage. Some matches in the tournament, which runs Aug. 26 to Sept. 9, air on CBS.

Other milestones ahead include National Football League contests. CBS won’t air its first match with the New York Jets until Sept. 22, but the New York Giants game against the Denver Broncos — the so-called Manning Bowl, pitting Giants quarterback Eli Manning against his brother, Denver QB Peyton — will air Sept. 15 on CBS.

TAKEAWAY

The retransmission-consent impasse between Time Warner Cable and CBS is moving into its third week, as the broadcaster re-ups with telco rival Verizon.

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