Time Warner-CBS blackout may last until Sept: analysts

Sun Aug 4, 2013 7:20pm EDT
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By Ashley Lau

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Millions of Time Warner Cable subscribers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas could be without CBS Corp programming for several weeks as the two companies appear no closer to settling a fee dispute, analysts said.

The blackout that began on Friday, when Time Warner Cable dropped the No. 1-rated U.S. broadcast network, has affected an estimated 3.5 million customers, including golf fans who missed Tiger Woods' victory in the Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday.

CBS, home to hits such as "The Big Bang Theory" and "NCIS," said there were no talks taking place at the moment, but the company remains "ready to negotiate in good faith." Time Warner Cable said it regretted the inconvenience to viewers and hoped to resolve the situation "as soon as possible."

Industry analysts said the dispute over how much Time Warner Cable should pay to carry CBS could last until the start of the National Football League season in September, when millions of viewers rely on their cable providers to watch primetime games.

"Until the NFL games are on CBS, I can see this dragging on," said Chicago-based Morningstar analyst Michael Corty.

The fall is also when many new season shows kick off.

"The longer (CBS) waits, the more they don't get a chance to promote their fall lineup in the two biggest cities in the country," BTIG media analyst Rich Greenfield said.

CBS begins its fall lineup with the September 18 premiere of reality contest "Survivor." Other CBS primetime shows start their seasons beginning September 23   Continued...

The Time Warner Cable office is shown in Carlsbad, California November 5, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake