L.A. City Council to debate Time Warner Cable-CBS blackout

The Los Angeles City Council plans to wade into the contentious contract dispute between Time Warner Cable and CBS Corp., which has led to a four-week blackout of local CBS stations in more than 1 million homes in Los Angeles.

On Friday, the L.A. City Council’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee sent a motion to all council members asking for the matter to be heard at the group’s regular meeting on Tuesday. The council meeting begins at 10 a.m. in the John Ferraro Council Chambers at City Hall in downtown Los Angeles.

The proposed resolution asks the Federal Communications Commission to intervene in the dispute between the warring TV giants.

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“More than 1 million Time Warner Cable subscribers in the Los Angeles area have lost access to KCBS-TV Channel 2 and such hit series as ‘Under the Dome’ as well as local news and sports, including Dodger games, on KCAL-TV Channel 9,” the commission’s draft resolution reads in part.

About 80% of the cable TV subscribers in L.A. are affected by the blackout, the resolution said. “Time Warner Cable provides service to more than a third of homes in the Los Angeles region,” the proposal says.

[Updated: 1:53 p.m. Aug. 30: A spokesman for Time Warner Cable issued a statement: “We appreciate the City Council’s interest in this dispute and the call for the FCC to intervene. Unfortunately, we see no evidence that the FCC will use its authority under the ’92 [Cable] Act to protect consumers. We continue to actively negotiate with CBS, and plan to do so through the weekend, to try to reach a deal that’s fair for our customers.”]

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The Time Warner Cable blackout of local CBS stations has reached more than 3 million homes nationwide, including in New York and Dallas. The blackout began Aug. 2.

In Texas, Dallas Cowboys fans have missed three preseason contests that air on the local CBS station. In New York, Jets games have been blacked out.

The L.A. City Council resolution also addressed potential damage to the local economy.

“The blackout is coming at a bad time for local advertisers that are promoting back-to-school retail sales and end-of-the-model year car clearance sales,” the City Council document said.


CBS declined to comment.

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The two companies are arguing over how much Time Warner Cable must pay to retransmit local CBS broadcast signals and how to deal with the increasingly important digital rights for CBS’ popular programming.

Analysts watching the prolonged dispute have said the college and professional football seasons are likely to provide the tipping point, with both television companies under increased pressure — from viewers, Congress and the FCC — to resolve their differences.


In addition, the new TV season begins the week of Sept. 23.

The New York City Council separately took up the matter earlier this month and took the opportunity to scold Time Warner Cable and CBS executives.


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