Business & Economy

Los Angeles City Council addressing dispute between Time Warner Cable and CBS

L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson says the CBS blackout on Time Warner Cable is
L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson says the CBS blackout on Time Warner Cable is "a huge inconvenience."
Andres Aguila/KPCC

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The Los Angeles City Council has added itself to the list of concerned government organizations wanting to see an end to the ongoing blackout of CBS channels on the Time Warner Cable system.  

The Council's Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee quickly voted Friday to send a resolution on the blackout to the full council for discussion next Tuesday.  The resolution would urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to intervene and resolve the dispute between Time Warner Cable and CBS. 

Committee Chair and Council President Herb Wesson said a lot of his constituents are irate about the blackout, which has been in effect in Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas for almost a month. 

"It is a huge inconvenience," Wesson said. "Individuals in our community and I think in the city are genuinely upset."

Wesson acknowledged the City Council has no jurisdiction over negotiations between the two companies.   CBS and Time Warner Cable are battling over the fees the cable provider must pay to carry the broadcast network's channels.  But even if the City Council lacks power to intervene, Wesson points out they have a soapbox and the means to apply pressure.

"The city has an ability in some cases, to influence, and that’s what we’re trying to do," Wesson said. “Time Warner: they’re gonna have business with us in the future.  I would have to believe that somebody in that outfit is smart enough to say, ‘well, let’s at least listen.'"

Wesson added that Time Warner Cable and CBS will be invited to send representatives to next Tuesday's Council meeting. 

Three weeks ago, the FCC's acting chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said she would take "appropriate action" if the two sides don't end their spat. The Federal Communications Commission has said it is trying to help resolve the dispute. In an e-mailed statement,  an FCC spokesman told KPCC: 

The Commission is engaged at the highest levels with the respective parties and working to bring the impasse to an end for consumers and viewers in the affected markets.  Our primary concern remains with consumers and viewers, and we are disappointed that the respective parties have yet to reach a retransmission agreement.  We urge all parties to resolve this matter as quickly as possible so consumers can access the programming they rely on and are paying for.

The Los Angeles City Council's involvement comes during what many analysts consider a key week in the standoff. The National Football League's regular season begins on September 5, and CBS will broadcast its first NFL games beginning on September 8.