Negotiations between Sinclair Broadcast Group (NASDAQ:SBGI) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) were extended through midnight on Saturday, and a blackout will likely follow without a compromise.
“We’re still working hard to reach an agreement,” said Time Warner Cable spokesperson Maureen Huff, who noted that the company is “hoping to avoid a broadcaster blackout.”
The two have been arguing for weeks over fees. In December, Sinclair proposed raising Time Warner subscribers’ monthly bills by 10 cents; however the cable company rejected the offer.
Sinclair has said the hike is necessary to keep up with rapidly increasing programming costs, and has noted that any increase it proposes to Time Warner would not exceed those paid by every other major cable and satellite provider in deals reached over the last two years.
The latest dispute follows a slew of disagreement between cable providers and broadcast stations over fees. Cablevision (NYSE:CVC) customers went without FOX programming for 15 days last year, including through two World Series games, following a rate disagreement between Cablevision and FOX parent News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS).
Even if Sinclair pulls the plug on Saturday night, Time Warner Cable said it will continue to offer its Big 4 channels to customers.
“There is no need for customers to switch, they’ll still have access to all of their favorite network programming,” Huff said.