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CBS Time Warner


CBS Time Warner, New Yorkers often complain about their cable TV, but seldom do they have a forum like the one they had on Thursday, when Time Warner Cable and CBS heard viewer testimony about their dispute over retransmission fees.

“I was sitting in front of my TV wondering, ‘What is going on?’ ” said Caren Crawford, who lives in Midtown, at a City Council hearing. “I find it incomprehensible and highly hubristic.”

Sitting behind Ms. Crawford in City Hall were representatives from the two parties responsible for a blackout that began Friday and caught millions of viewers in the country in the middle of a quarrel over the cost of putting broadcast stations on cable systems.

Concerned about New York viewers, the City Council called the hearing to try to get to the bottom of the matter. Though CBS and Time Warner dealt each other harsh words at the hearing, they said that they had resumed negotiations.

“The public is being used as poker chips” in a corporate game, said Daniel R. Garodnick, the chairman of the Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs.

Rory Whelan, Time Warner Cable’s regional vice president for government relations, spoke of CBS’s behavior as “outrageous punitive conduct,” adding that it represented “the antithesis of acting in the public interest.”

He said Time Warner Cable had recently presented CBS with two new options to break the blackout. The first was an offer to secure the same terms and conditions of their last agreement, which started in 2008 and expired in June. The second was providing CBS programs on an à la carte basis.

CBS, Mr. Whelan said, “promptly rejected” the proposals.

After the Time Warner Cable testimony, Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, chastised Mr. Whelan for speaking as though Time Warner were “acting perfectly.”

“I am struck by the lack of any conciliatory tone,” she said, before leaving for an appointment.

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