Time Warner Cable Gives Tennis Channel to CBS-Less Users

Time Warner Cable Inc., the second-largest U.S. cable provider, is offering a free preview of the Tennis Channel to customers who can’t get CBS during the U.S. Open because of a contract dispute.

Digital basic-cable customers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and other regions without CBS will get 75 hours of live matches plus additional coverage on the Tennis Channel for no additional charge, Time Warner Cable said yesterday in a statement. The network isn’t normally available on basic cable.

Time Warner Cable’s blackout of CBS’s networks, including the broadcast channel and Showtime, has lasted 19 days, surpassing the two-week shutdown of Fox in 2010 by Cablevision Systems Corp. The two sides continue negotiating, said Maureen Huff, spokeswoman for New York-based Time Warner Cable.

“We know the U.S. Open is popular programming,” Mike Angus, Time Warner Cable’s senior vice president and general manager of video, said in a statement. “We’re pleased to be able to offer additional programming via Tennis Channel to customers affected by this dispute.”

CBS has exclusive TV coverage of the tournament’s later matches, including the men’s and women’s singles semifinals and finals. Live matches are also available on ESPN2, CBS Sports Network and USOpen.org.

“The only way to watch CBS’s coverage of the U.S. Open on television is on CBS,” the New York-based broadcaster said in an e-mailed statement.

The U.S. Open begins Aug. 26 and ends Sept. 9. It is the last of tennis’s four major championships, including the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon.

Temporary Reprieve

Time Warner Cable and CBS have agreed to temporarily lift their blackout in New York for as many as three political debates, Huff said. Those include one tonight between the Democratic primary’s comptroller candidates; a Republican mayoral debate on Aug. 28; and a debate, if necessary, between Democratic mayoral runoff candidates on Sept. 23. No other programming will be affected.

CBS said today it struck an agreement with Verizon Communications Inc. to continue airing its broadcast network and expand the availability of CBS Sports Network on the phone company’s FiOS television service. The companies didn’t disclose terms of the deal. Verizon competes with Time Warner Cable in parts of New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.

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