It's time for another round of deal, delay or drop with your hosts Time Warner Cable and CBS Corp.
Earlier this week, the two media giants kept viewers on the edge of their seats wondering whether the CBS signal would disappear from Time Warner Cable systems in Los Angeles, New York City and elsewhere. After trading lots of blows, including a brief knockout of the CBS signal, the two sides agreed to keep negotiating in the hopes of coming to terms on a new distribution contract.
The deadine for that new deal is this afternoon at 2 p.m. Of course, anyone who followed Monday's craziness knows those deadlines aren't written in stone. On Monday, CBS and Time Warner Cable extended the deadline hourly until 9 p.m. That's when Time Warner Cable briefly dropped the CBS signal only to restore it several minutes later. Then the two sides said they would keep talking for a few more days.
So what will happen this time? Although both sides say some progress is being made, neither sounds close to a deal. However, it is unlikely that there will be a repeat of Monday night's drama. If there is an extension, it will probably run through the weekend. If the signals come off, then negotiations could drag on for days or weeks depending on how consumers, regulators and politicians react to the situation.
Neither side will discuss the differences in opinion. Media analysts and insiders say CBS is seeking to increase the fee Time Warner Cable pays to carry its TV stations (including KCBS-TV Channel 2 Los Angeles) to close to $2 per month, per subscriber. That's just for the first year. Fees would go up over the life of the contract.
Currently Time Warner Cable pays less than $1 per subscriber, per month. The cable company has indicated it is willing to pay more for CBS but thinks the price on the table is too high.
Besides CBS-owned TV stations, also part of the deal are the cable channels Showtime and the CBS Sports Network.
On its earnings call with analysts earlier this week, CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said the company is prepared to stand its ground.
“Receiving fair value for our content is core to who we are and we will remain resolute in this principle,” Moonves said.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.