LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles City Council committee today adopted a resolution urging the Federal Communication Commission to step into the drawn- out fee dispute that has left millions of viewers unable to access CBS-owned channels for four weeks.
More than a million Time Warner Cable subscribers in Los Angeles and as many as 3 million nationwide saw their CBS and other CBS-owned channels go dark this month amid a deadlock between the television network and cable provider over re-transmission consent fees.
The City Council's Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee forwarded the resolution -- which backs FCC involvement in any legislation or administrative action in the dispute -- to the full City Council.
The committee asked that CBS and Time Warner Cable be invited to speak on the issue when it goes to the City Council. The city's Information Technology Agency also was asked to give a report on the dispute.
Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., has requested the FCC bring together the two parties ``so negotiations can be concluded in an equitable and expeditious manner and that carriage is restored by the parties at the earliest possible time so that consumers are not long caught in the middle,'' the motion said.
CBS channels first went dark on Time Warner at 2:20 p.m., Aug. 2. The channels being blocked by Time Warner include CBS-owned and operated Los Angeles stations KCBS and KCAL, Showtime and the Smithsonian network.
In lieu of CBS2 programming, Time Warner has been airing programs from STARZ. Other CBS channels now feature a notice that says Time Warner is being asked for excessive fees to air CBS programming.
``We regret this inconvenience, but feel it is crucial that we we let CBS know that we're willing to do what it takes to keep down the price of TV,'' the notice said.
Time Warner broadband subscribers trying to watch programs online at CBS.com have been greeted with the words ``content not available'' and an ad slamming Time Warner.
A statement issued by CBS derides Time Warner's decision to drop Showtime along with the television outlets, calling it ``a move that is completely unnecessary and totally punitive to its subscribers.''
CBS executives in New York City declined to say how much of a fee increase the network seeks, nor how much Time Warner was offering.
Time Warner also has blocked Showtime and CBS-owned and operated TV stations in New York City and Dallas.