The tortured talks between CBS and Time Warner Cable are set to last at least a few more days: After a brief blackout of the Eye’s channels on the operator’s systems, the companies extended their previous agreement through Friday, Aug. 2, at 5 p.m. Eastern, as they try to come to terms on a new fee structure.
TW Cable just after midnight ET Monday began pulling CBS stations in New York, L.A. and Dallas, along with Showtime and three other CBS cablers from lineups nationwide — but the operator halted the blackout after CBS came back to the negotiating table.
CBS is seeking more coin for its owned-and-operating TV stations in Gotham, L.A., Dallas and five other markets — while Time Warner Cable is refusing to pay what it claims are rates 600% more than it pays independent CBS affiliates elsewhere in the U.S.
The marathon negotiations have dragged on for weeks. Originally, the 2008 pact was set to expire June 30, and the parties have pushed back the deadline multiple times. On Monday the deal deadline was 5 p.m. ET — which CBS and TWC extended to 8 p.m., then kept postponing every hour until midnight.
CBS has boasted that its broadcast stations have never gone dark in a retrans dispute, although in 2004 Dish Network pulled several of the Eye’s locals as part of a broader carriage fight with then-CBS parent Viacom.
After talks between CBS and Time Warner Cable hit an impasse Monday the cable operator began pulling WCBS in Gotham, KCBS in L.A. and KTVT in Dallas, as well as national feeds of Showtime, The Movie Channel, Flix and Smithsonian Channel. However, TW Cable restored the channels at CBS’s request and the negotiations resumed.
Meanwhile, in a lower-profile retrans spat, Journal Broadcast Group’s CBS and NBC affiliates in four markets have been off Time Warner Cable since last Thursday. The cable operator says the station group is asking for a 200% rate hike, while Journal Broadcast says the increase is only pennies per day per viewer.