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Time Warner Cable offers Tennis Channel free in CBS-deprived areas

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With the U.S. Open tennis tournament set to begin next week, some ardent tennis fans who subscribe to Time Warner Cable are getting a little twitchy.

The reason: The nearly three-week blackout of local CBS stations on Time Warner Cable systems in Los Angeles, New York and Dallas could keep tennis fans in those markets from watching CBS coverage of key weekend action from the nation's biggest tennis tournament. 

On Wednesday, Time Warner Cable tried to mollify tennis fans. The cable provider said that it would make the independent Tennis Channel free to its digital subscribers in CBS blackout markets who might be miffed that they could miss CBS' coverage of the U.S. Open.

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Time Warner Cable said digital customers "in areas affected by a CBS blackout" would be provided with the Tennis Channel free during the U.S. Open, which runs from Aug. 26 to Sept. 9. 

The Tennis Channel plans to televise more than 200 hours of U.S. Open matches, including 75 hours of live coverage, including prime-time matches over the Labor Day weekend. 

Still, the marquee action will be on CBS. The broadcast network owns the rights to air more than 36 hours of U.S. Open coverage over the long Labor Day weekend as well as the pivotal men's and women's semifinals and final matches, which will take place Friday, Sept. 6 through Monday, Sept. 9. (The men's final is scheduled for 2 p.m. Pacific time Sept. 9).

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The Tennis Channel also plans to replay the men's and women's semifinals and the men's and women's finals after those matches air live on CBS. 

ESPN also has rights to televise dozens of U.S. Open matches.  And beginning in 2015, the Walt Disney Co.-owned sports network will hold broadcast rights to the semifinals and finals.  But that doesn't help Time Warner Cable customers this year who live in the blackout cities.

“We appreciate our customers’ patience as we work to resolve the blackout with CBS,” Mike Angus, Time Warner Cable general manager of video, said in a statement. 

“We know the U.S. Open is popular programming.  We’re pleased to be able to offer additional programming via Tennis Channel to customers affected by this dispute," Angus said. "A lot of the matches will also still be available to customers via ESPN2 and CBS Sports Network.”

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Twitter: @MegJamesLAT

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