Fox, Time Warner Cable ink temp deal to avoid blackout

Fri Jan 1, 2010 1:43am EST
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By Yinka Adegoke

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Time Warner Cable and News Corp's Fox Networks agreed to a brief extension of their current carriage contract on Thursday to avoid a blackout that would have prevented 13 million U.S. homes from seeing TV shows like "The Simpsons" and college and NFL football games.

The two sides continued to negotiate for a longer-term deal into the early hours of Friday morning.

Time Warner Cable also agreed a short extension with Scripps Networks Interactive's Food Network.

But another cable operator, Cablevision Systems Corp, which has 3 million subscribers in the New York area, said early on Friday it had been unable to reach a new carriage agreement with Scripps and dropped both Food Network and HGTV.

It said in a statement it had "no expectations" of carrying Scripps programing again.

The last-minute negotiations over how much cable operators pay networks to distribute their programing are often contentious. In 2008 Time Warner Cable went to the wire with Viacom Inc on New Year's eve in a similar dispute.

In the last 12 months talks between cable operators and program providers have become even more tense. Programmers have been seeking better affiliate fees as they have seen advertising revenue hurt by the U.S. economic downturn and remain uncertain about the future of TV advertising as more marketers turn to the Web.