Fox says Time Warner Cable may drop Fox TV shows

Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:49am EST
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By Franklin Paul and Yinka Adegoke

NEW YORK (Reuters) - News Corp warned that testy carriage negotiations with Time Warner Cable Inc could leave viewers unable to see programing from its Fox broadcast network, including it blockbuster hit "American Idol" and NFL football.

Negotiations between the two sides have been primarily held up by a disagreement over the value of Fox's free-to-air broadcast network. Fox is asking Time Warner Cable for around $1 a subscriber in payment for the retransmission rights to carry its network, according to a person familiar with the talks.

Time Warner Cable executives have balked at paying that much and have claimed that negotiations with broadcast companies like Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc and Local TV which carry local affiliate stations are in the 25 cents to 50 cents a subscriber range.

CBS Corp CEO Les Moonves, who has been a very vocal supporter of getting pay-TV providers to pay cash for the right to carry his broadcast network, has publicly said he expects his company to be paid around 50 cents a subscriber.

Fox said it has for the past nine months attempted to "negotiate in good faith" with Time Warner Cable, the No. 2 U.S. cable operator, which serves some 14 million customers, and said those talks are ongoing.

But there is a "very likely possibility that Time Warner Cable may choose to no longer carry Fox Broadcasting, Fox Cable and Fox regional sports programing," Fox said.

The negotiations do not include Fox's news channels or National Geographic channel in which it has a 50 percent stake.

Executives at Time Warner Cable will be hoping to reach an agreement ahead of January 12, when the new season of hugely popular "American Idol" returns to air.   Continued...