CBS, TWC reach programming deal to end month-long blackout

Network programming is expected to resume on the cable giant's systems in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas by 3 p.m. PT Monday.

Mari Benitez/CNET

CBS and Time Warner Cable have reached a content carriage agreement, ending a month-long blackout that cut off millions of the cable giant's subscribers from the network's programming.

CBS, which owns CNET, said in a statement that it expects its programming to resume on Time Warner systems in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas by 3 p.m. PT Monday. Terms of the deal were not revealed.

CBS CEO Les Moonves said that although the dispute went on longer than expected, the new contract was worth the fight.

"This was a far more protracted dispute than anyone at CBS anticipated, but in spite of the pain it caused to all of us, and most importantly the inconvenience to our viewers who were affected, it was an important one, and one worth pursuing to a satisfactory conclusion," Moonves said in a memo to CBS employees. "That has been achieved. The final agreements with Time Warner Cable deliver to us all the value and terms that we sought in these discussions."

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said the cable giant didn't achieve everything it wanted in the new agreement but was happy to restore CBS programming to its subscribers.

"As in all of our negotiations, we wanted to hold down costs and retain our ability to deliver a great video experience for our customers," Britt said in a statement. "While we certainly didn't get everything we wanted, ultimately we ended up in a much better place than when we started."

After weeks of negotiations and multiple deadline extensions, CBS programming for about 3 million people in the three markets went dark on Time Warner's systems on August 2 after the two companies failed to come to terms on fees the cable company must pay to carry the broadcaster's programming in the three markets. Until that time, the two companies had been negotiating under an extension to their previous agreement that expired June 30.

The high-stakes talks between the two companies was apparently fierce, with both sides accusing the other of trying to derail negotiations. Time Warner Cable said CBS was asking for a 600 percent markup on fees compared with what it pays in the rest of the country, while CBS said Time Warner Cable wouldn't negotiate the standard deal that all other cable, satellite, and telecommunications companies have struck with the network.

Before the programming blackout, CBS began running ads warning Time Warner's subscribers that they were in danger of losing access to its programming. In response, Time Warner Cable suggested that its New York subscribers use streaming startup Aereo to access local programming if CBS pulled the plug.

Aereo, which is backed by IAC Chairman Barry Diller, uses antenna/DVR technology to let consumers watch live, local over-the-air television broadcasts on some Internet-connected devices, including the iPad and iPhone.

Correction at 7 a.m. PT September 3: The timing of the agreement and the end of the blackout were incorrect. Both happened Monday.

 

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