Time Warner Cable, Fox at impasse; blackout looms

Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:08pm EST
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By Yinka Adegoke

NEW YORK (Reuters) - About 13 million Time Warner Cable Inc subscribers were to lose most Fox programing at midnight on Thursday unless the cable service provider reached a last-minute deal to pay fees to News Corp to broadcast the shows.

Talks heated up as the deadline approached but the two sides were deadlocked on some key points, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity.

News Corp, which owns Fox, wants Time Warner Cable to pay $1 per subscriber per month for the right to carry Fox Networks' free-to-air broadcast shows such as "American Idol," "The Simpsons" and "House," as well as sports programing like NFL and college football games.

Subscribers could lose Fox programing in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Orlando.

Fox's dispute with Time Warner Cable is also about higher affiliate fees for several entertainment and sports cable networks including FX, Speed, Fuel and Fox Soccer Channel. The discussions do not include Fox News and Fox Business.

The Federal Communications Commission chair Julian Genachowski on Thursday proposed a temporary deal.

"I have urged Fox and Time Warner Cable to agree to a temporary extension of carriage if they do not come to terms on a new carriage agreement today, in order to prevent disruption to their viewers."

Time Warner Cable on Thursday said it had urged Fox to agree to a 30-day cooling-off period proposed by New York congressman Steve Israel so Fox shows could remain on the cable operator's network at least till January's end.   Continued...