How to Watch CBS Shows During the Blackout

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Bickering between CBS and Time Warner Cable means about 3 million cable customers are missing some channels now. Here's what's going on, and what you can do.

Apparently, if the cable company doesn’t get its way, it can just drop channels.

Roughly 3 million Time Warner Cable customers in several major cities learned this late last week when the company blacked out CBS in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit and Pittsburgh, CNNMoney says.

It also affects CBS-owned Showtime, The Movie Channel and The Smithsonian Channel. And if the delay goes on long enough, yes, that could mean interrupted football programming.

At the start of the blackout, customers flipping to those channels got a text message on a blue screen that explained the company’s reasoning. Now those customers might just see temporary replacement programming from Starz Kids & Family and wonder what’s going on.

Here is what’s up: Time Warner claims the network is demanding an unfair retransmission fee. Says The New York Times:

Time Warner Cable has insisted that the fee increases that CBS is asking for are unreasonable; CBS has argued it provides far more value than many cable networks that require much higher fees. Some reports have said CBS is asking for an increase of about 100 percent, to $2 a subscriber, from $1.

What’s a CBS lover stuck in the middle to do? USA Today has some suggestions for affected Time Warner customers:

  • Get an antenna for about $30 at Best Buy or Amazon, which may let you pick up HD-quality broadcasts from major networks. The quality depends on your location, of course.
  • Use $8-a-month Aereo to get networks including CBS on your computer or Roku.
  • Time Warner Internet customers are blocked from watching on CBS.com, but can try other streaming sites including Amazon Instant Video to keep up with their favorite shows. Amazon Prime customers may be able to stream for free, but otherwise episodes are about $2 each.

Another option, if you’re sufficiently disgusted, is to drop Time Warner altogether. Are you a Time Warner customer hit by the blackout? How does this move make you feel? Sound off on our Facebook page.

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