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CBS, Time Warner Cable Pact Expires as Talks Continue

Deal covers the Eye's owned-and-operated stations in MSO's markets, as well as cable nets including Showtime

The distribution deal between CBS and Time Warner Cable expired at midnight Eastern on Sunday, and reps for the two sides said negotiations covering the Eye’s owned-and-operated broadcast stations and cable networks continued past the deadline.

No blackouts of CBS-owned networks have been reported on Time Warner Cable systems. During distribution standoffs, media companies sometimes have demanded that pay TV operators cease carriage of their networks in an attempt to gain leverage.

The companies temporarily extended the contract for a short period while they hash out new terms, but they didn’t disclose the length of the extension.

The current pact, which dates to 2008, covers CBS owned-and-operated stations in TWC markets, including WCBS-TV New York, KCBS-TV Los Angeles and KTVT-TV in Dallas-Ft. Worth. Also on the table are carriage terms for cablers including Showtime Networks and Smithsonian Channel. TVGN, the former TV Guide Network, is believed to not be part of the current negotiations; CBS acquired a 50% stake in the cabler this spring, which is jointly owned by Lionsgate.

CBS has been gearing up to boost revenue from retransmission-consent deals for its broadcast stations, while TWC has taken a hard-line stance against programmers requesting higher retrans and carriage payments.

For the first quarter of 2013, CBS reported a 62% rise in retrans payments from cable, satellite and telco TV providers. The Eye expects retrans revenue for the full year to roughly double, to $500 million. Over the next few years, CBS will be eyeing monthly retrans fees of about $2 per subscriber, RBC Capital Markets analysts David Bank and Nicholas Caplan wrote in a June 5 research note.

Separately, late Friday, Time Warner Cable and Milwaukee-based Journal Broadcast Group extended their retrans deal covering six stations until July 10. That agreement had been set to expire at midnight on Sunday. “We remain in discussions with Journal,” TWC spokesman Jon Gary Hererra said, adding that there’s “no risk that customers’ viewing will be interrupted at this time.”

TWC has claimed Journal Broadcast is seeking a 200% rate hike, while the broadcaster characterizes the increase as just pennies per day per subscriber.

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