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FCC Works on Impasse Between CBS and Time Warner Cable

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission says it’s working to resolve a fee dispute that has kept CBS Corp. (CBS) programming off Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) systems serving more than 3 million viewers since Aug. 2.

“The commission is engaged at the highest levels with the respective parties and working to bring the impasse to an end,” Justin Cole, an agency spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “We urge all parties to resolve this matter as quickly as possible so consumers can access the programming they rely on and are paying for.”

The statement didn’t offer details. The FCC’s acting chairwoman, Mignon Clyburn, has said the agency lacks power to intervene.

At an Aug. 9 news conference, Clyburn said she was “really distressed” at the blackout and was “ready to consider appropriate action.”

Time Warner Cable, the second-largest U.S. cable provider, began blacking out CBS in cities including New York, Los Angeles and Dallas after talks about payments to the broadcaster for its programming came to an impasse. The duration of the blackout surpasses the two-week shutdown of Fox on Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC), a similar clash in 2010.

The National Football League, the most popular sports league in the U.S., begins its season Sept. 5, with the first CBS games airing Sept. 8 -- a date looming over the negotiations with Time Warner Cable.

The cable operator’s top executives had two conversations with the FCC to update the commission on the status of the negotiations in the last seven days, including one on Aug. 26, Susan Leepson, a company spokeswoman, said in an interview.

Dana McClintock, a spokesman for New York-based CBS, declined to comment.

To contact the reporters on this story: Todd Shields in Washington at tshields3@bloomberg.net or Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net

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