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Fox channels remain live while talks continue

Nine channels remained on Time Warner Cable systems in South Carolina today despite ongoing disputes over subscriber fees.

The channels in question include seven owned by Fox -- SportSouth, FX, Speed, Fuel, Fox Reality, Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Espanol -- and two from Scripps Networks -- Food Network and Great American Country.

Agreements over how much Time Warner Cable pays programmers to carry those channels expired at midnight. But the sides reportedly agreed to temporary extensions as talks continued.

Time Warner Cable customers in some cities nationwide -- including New York , Los Angeles and Dallas -- could have lost lose their Fox network affiliates today because of the fee dispute. Those affiliates are owned by the Fox’s parent News Corp.

None of the four Fox network affiliates in South Carolina, including Columbia’s WACH, are owned by News Corp. WACH is owned by Barrington Broadcasting, based outside Chicago . Columbia’s Fox affiliate has received more than 30 calls from viewers concerned that it too will go off Time Warner, WACH president Scott McBride said.

Time Warner’s 430,000 customers in South Carolina will still be able to watch college and pro football games, "House," "24" and "American Idol" carried by the Fox broadcast channel.

But at risk for Time Warner Cable subscribers are the start of new seasons for cable shows "Nip/Tuck" and "Damages" on FX and coverage of the upcoming NASCAR season on Speed. Also without the Food Network, they could lose "Iron Chef" and Paula Deen’s cooking shows.

Time Warner Cable plans to offer replacement programming on Fox-owned cable channels if News Corp. pulls its channels.

Time Warner Cable, which has more than 150,000 subscribers in the Columbia area, said it’s fighting "massive price increases" requested by some programmers.

The amount cable, satellite and phone TV operators pay in subscriber fees has grown by double digits each of the past three years, experts have said.

Those programming fees are passed on to subscribers. Last month, Time Warner Cable customers in South Carolina started paying $4 to $18 more a month for popular TV packages.

Fox says it provides the shows and events that draw viewers to pay-TV offered by cable, satellite and phone companies. Fox says it just wants a more fair share of what Time Warner Cable charges customers.

Fights over subscriber fees blocking some channels from cable and satellite TV customers is nothing new.

The sports network Versus is no longer being carried on the DirecTV satellite service after the sides failed to reach a new fee deal in August. And Time Warner Cable has not carried the NFL Network, in part, over proposed subscriber fees.

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