CBS/Time Warner Cable talks go down to the wire

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Time Warner Cable and CBS are going down to the wire to settle a dispute that could result in a blackout for millions of Time Warner Cable customers across the country.

The companies have been battling in recent weeks over the “transmission fee” that Time Warner Cable pays to run CBS-owned stations, including network affiliates in major cities like New York and Los Angeles, and CBS-owned pay channel Showtime, according to the cable provider.

CBS has threatened to yank its programming from Time Warner Cable customers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas if an agreement is not reached. It could also potentially affect Time Warner Cable’s Showtime subscribers across the country, according to Time Warner Cable spokeswoman Maureen Huff.

On Monday afternoon, the companies announced they had agreed to extend the deadline for talks to 8 p.m. ET from 5 p.m. It was the fourth deadline extension over the past month since the former contract expired on June 30.

Huff said that negotiations remained “ongoing and active.” CBS declined to comment beyond a statement that the deadline had been extended while negotiations continued.

If the two companies don’t reach an agreement, Time Warner Cable customers could be blocked from viewing CBS programs, including hit shows like “NCIS,” “The Big Bang Theory” and this summer’s “Under the Dome.”

Although TV networks tend to attract fewer viewers in the summer season, “Under the Dome” has topped the ratings list, attracting more viewers than any other show last Monday night.

CBS has been running TV commercials warning customers in the affected cities that “Time Warner Cable is threatening to hold your favorite shows hostage.”

In response, Time Warner Cable has claimed that CBS is demanding too high a rate — 600% more than what the cable provider has to pay for the network’s programming in other parts of the country. In those areas, Time Warner Cable negotiates with local CBS affiliates that are not owned outright by the network.

By Melanie Hicken

CNNMoney’s Katie Lobosco contributed to this report.