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CBS and TWC step back from blackout threat

US network CBS and cable-television operator Time Warner Cable have pulled back from a threatened blackout in eight US markets as talks continue over a new retransmission contract, according to the USA Today newspaper.

The two parties had set a deadline of midnight Tuesday to agree a new deal. If the blackout had proceeded CBS would have been removed for TWC customers in the markets of New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit and Denver – potentially affecting around three million households.

CBS is arguing that it offers some of the most popular programming – including NFL American football games – and therefore should receive higher carriage fees.

The network is currently said to receive $0.88 (€0.68) per month per subscriber from pay-television providers. By contrast, sports broadcaster ESPN receives around $5.5 per subscriber making it the clear market leader in fees.

CBS and TWC’s retransmission contract expired at the end of June, but the two parties have opted to keep CBS channels on air while talks continue over a new deal.

A number of deadlines have been set this month and TWC spokeswoman Maureen Huff said the signals were being removed on Tuesday when CBS asked to stop the process.

“They were dark in some but not all areas,” she said. “At the request of CBS, we have halted going dark on their channels.”

The parties will continue to negotiate with no established deadline, Huff added.