CBS Corp. and Time Warner Cable executives were up late last night trying to reach a carriage agreement. But after a series of one-hour extensions, threatening statements and a brief blackout of CBS by Time Warner Cable in some areas, the two agreed to yet another extension in the early morning hours.
The companies have now given themselves until Friday at 5 p.m. ET to reach a deal.
The negotiators may have lost count of extensions at this point. They had already pushed back the deadline for an agreement twice after Time Warner Cable's deal to carry CBS and Showtime expired at the end of June.
Just after midnight Time Warner Cable sent a statement saying it was dropping CBS due to "outrageous demands for fees" but arguing that upset subscribers still shouldn't switch pay-TV companies.
"As of midnight ET, Time Warner Cable customers in New York City, Dallas and Los Angeles will no longer receive their local CBS broadcast stations," Time Warner Cable spokeswoman Maureen Huff said in the statement. "In addition, we have been forced to remove Showtime, TMC, Flix and Smithsonian from our lineups across the country. We offered to pay reasonable increases, but CBS's demands are out of line and unfair -- and they want Time Warner Cable to pay more than others pay for the same programming."
"We regret any inconvenience caused by the CBS/Showtime blackout, and we're working hard to restore the programming at a reasonable price," she added. "Switching is not the answer; sooner or later CBS will threaten others and go dark, just as they have with DISH in the past and with us today."
Some areas did lose CBS service for a short period before Time Warner Cable said the network asked them to halt the blackout.
The dispute centers on CBS' demands for an increase in fees in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles, which Time Warner Cable claims is 600% higher than what they pay for the network in other markers.
CBS' head honcho Leslie Moonves has argued that Time Warner Cable has the means to pay more and that while the cable operator has pulled 50 channels in such disputes during the last five years, CBS has never been dropped by a cable company.
As the companies negotiate, they have been running campaigns to get TV viewers on their side. CBS has been warning viewers that Time Warner Cable is threatening to "hold your favorite shows hostage," while Time Warner Cable is airing commercials accusing CBS of giving New York a "black eye."