Fox stations to remain on Time Warner Cable

Deal reached Friday afternoon after all-night negotiations

Just in time for the kickoff of the Sugar Bowl on Fox, News Corp. and Time Warner Cable late Friday afternoon announced a deal in principle that will keep the network's signal on in 5.5 million homes that get Fox through the company's owned and operated stations.

The carriage agreement also covers several Fox cable networks, including FX and Speed, which also will continue on TWC systems in 15 million homes.

The deal was reached midday Jan.1 after a marathon all-night negotiation session between the two  teams led by TWC's exec vp and chief programming officer Melinda Witmer and Fox Cable Networks' president of affiliate sales and marketing Mike Hopkins.

The pact comes after months of tense negotiations and heated attacks and accusations from both companies.

"We're pleased that, after months of negotiations, we were able to reach a fair agreement with Time Warner Cable -- one that recognizes the value of our programming," said News Corp. president and COO Chase Carey.

Added Fox Networks Group chairman Tony Vinciquerra in an email to Fox employees: "It was a monumental task that was months in planning, and the team worked deep into the final night of the contract... BUT WE GOT IT DONE."

The agreement was reached without a disruption in TWC's carriage of the Fox networks, which were supposed to go dark at midnight Thursday but stayed on thanks to a series of extensions the two sides agreed to while continuing to negotiate.

"We're happy to have reached a reasonable deal with no disruption in programming for our customers," said Glenn Britt, chairman, president and CEO of Time Warner Cable.

In the final 48 hours before the midnight Dec. 31 deadline, the two sides came under a lot of pressure to keep Fox programming on with or without a new deal.

Sen. John Kerry vowed to get the FCC "to intervene and mandate continued coverage and arbitration" if Fox went dark, and FCC chairman Julius Genachowski on Thursday also "urged Fox and Time Warner Cable to agree to a temporary extension of carriage."

Neither Fox nor TWC would comment on the terms of the agreement.

Fox had been asking for $1 per subscriber per month, while TWC reportedly started the negotiations offering as low as 20 cents-30 cents.

Several media analysts, including Pali Research's Richard Greenfield, had predicted that the two sides would eventually agree to a fee in the 50 cent-60 cent range.

A carriage fee of 50 cents for CBS also has been the target for CBS Corp.'s CEO Leslie Moonves.
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