Sinclair Broadcast Group and two cable TV companies announced an agreement late Friday to extend a midnight deadline for a new contract until Jan. 14, averting for now an interruption of some programming to millions of cable customers.
Sinclair and the two companies, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, issued news releases late Friday saying contract talks would continue.
Time Warner serves the Summerville area. Previous contracts were set to expire at midnight. Locally, the stations that would have been affected are WTAT, the local Fox outlet, and WMMP, the MyNetworkTV affiliate.
'We have an extension' for two weeks, said Karen Morena, a Time Warner spokeswoman. 'It will mean no interruption in programming for our customers.'
Steve Miron, CEO of Bright House Networks, said in a statement: 'We will continue to work toward a fair deal for our customers.'
Sinclair said the extension means Time Warner and Bright House will continue to carry programs from 33 of its television stations.
'We are pleased Time Warner and Bright House recognized the importance of providing their subscribers with access to the valuable and popular programming' provided on Sinclair stations, said Barry Faber, executive vice president and general counsel of Sinclair.
The parties have been bogged down in negotiations over how much the cable companies should pay to carry Sinclair TV stations in markets around the country. Local Sinclair stations — including affiliates of NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox — would have been dropped from channel lineups for roughly 4 million Time Warner customers and an unknown number of Bright House customers after midnight Friday without the extension.
Earlier Friday, Time Warner had vowed to provide its cable customers with network TV stations from other cities if it lost the rights to carry local stations owned by Sinclair.
Viewers likely would have gotten access to major network programming, including today's Outback Bowl game on ABC between Florida and Penn State, had Sinclair pulled its signals once the deadline passed.
'We intend to continue our good faith negotiations during this period with the intent of finalizing a longer-term agreement at pricing that reflects the higher cost of programming we are faced with today.'