CBS, Time Warner Cable Avert Blackouts At Eleventh Hour

CBS and Time Warner Cable agreed early Tuesday to keep talking and prevent a blackout of CBS stations in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. The announcement came after considerable confusion on both sides.

Just after midnight, both issued statements saying the CBS-owned stations in the markets were off the air and blamed each other for the blackouts. Shortly after, however, Time Warner Cable (TWC) came back with a statement saying that at the request of CBS, the stations were staying on the air.

Then came word the two sides would keep negotiating.

The CBS-owned stations were expected to go dark Monday at 5 p.m. if the matter remained unresolved. But that deadline was extended to 8 p.m., which was extended to 9 p.m., which was then extended every hour until midnight.

At 11 p.m. with the hourly pushbacks, a TWC executive who had been sending out emails announcing the extensions, wrote: “If anyone wants to be removed from this distribution list, just let me know.”



CBS and TWC have been negotiating a new deal covering how much the cable operator would pay CBS for rights to offer its stations on TWC's systems.

The rhetoric has been heated -- notably on TWC's side, as it has accused CBS CEO Leslie Moonves of disregarding its “customers' budgets.” CBS has focused on promoting the programming that would go off the air with a blackout, but also charged that TWC is “threatening to hold your favorite TV shows hostage.”

The negotiations have also included Showtime and the CBS Sports Network, but any disagreement there surely was not holding up a deal.

The timing of the dispute may have emboldened TWC with CBS’s prime-time lineup filled with summer reruns. Top-tier sports events might have moved the two sides closer to a deal, but the PGA Championship doesn't debut on CBS until Aug. 10. And should the two sides still be at an impasse then, that may not even be enough to spark a settlement if both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are out of contention by the third round.

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