FCC pressuring Fox, TWC to extend talks

Chairman urging for 'a temporary extension of carriage'

With the midnight deadline for Fox and Time Warner Cable to reach a new carriage deal looming, pressure is mounting for Fox to agree to an extension while keeping the broadcast network and several cable channels, including FX, on the cable system.

In a statement by FCC chairman Julius Genachowski commending Sinclair and Mediacom's agreement to an eight-day extension of their retransmission consent agreement, which was also set to expire tonight, Genachowski also addressed the standoff between Fox and TWC.

"I have urged Fox and Time Warner Cable to agree to a temporary extension of carriage if they do not come to terms on a new carriage agreement today, in order to prevent disruption to their viewers," he said. "Companies shouldn't force cable-watching football fans to scramble for other means of TV delivery on New Year's weekend."

Between Jan. 1 and Jan. 5, Fox is set to air the four major college bowls as well as the Dallas Cowboys/Philadelphia Eagles NFL game.

The statement follows Sen. John Kerry's stern letter to News Corp. president and COO Chase Carey, in which he vouched to take the matter to the FCC if Fox wouldn't agree to keep the network's programming on beyond the Dec. 31 deadline if no deal is reached.

New York congressman Steve Israel on Thursday proposed a "30-day cooling-off period" between the two sides, an offer that was quickly accepted by TWC.

Another congressman, Charles Gonzalez of Texas, also wrote Carey, urging him to accept an interim agreement, as did several non-profit organizations, including the New America Foundation.