Bart Simpson and the Sugar Bowl game are among the possible casualties of a bitter dispute over fees that the Fox network's owner is demanding from Time Warner Cable systems in New York, Los Angeles and other markets.
As a midnight Thursday deadline approaches, though, Time Warner Cable offered an olive branch that could leave the Fox network and some of its cable TV channels on the lineup — for now.
Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said Wednesday the cable operator will agree to binding arbitration and any interim steps necessary to keep Fox channels on while talks continue.
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"Consumers should not be caught in the middle," Britt said Wednesday.
Britt disclosed such willingness in a letter to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who had pleaded for both sides to agree to uninterrupted television for football fans "through the college bowl season." A copy of the letter was forwarded to News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey.
Fox said it will respond to the offer later Wednesday.
Fox, a division of News Corp., is arguing that it needs to be paid more for broadcast signals that are retransmitted to subscribers of Time Warner Cable Inc. and Bright House Networks.
The dispute concerns the signals of 14 Fox-owned stations covering such markets as Los Angeles, New York, Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin, Texas, Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg and Orlando, Fla. Stations carrying Fox programming but owned by other companies are not affected.
Besides the Fox broadcast network, six cable channels — FX, Speed, Fuel, Fox Reality, Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Espanol — and certain regional sports networks were also up for negotiations.
Fox News, Fox Business News and National Geographic channels were not at risk of being shut off.
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