Triangle cable-TV viewers could start a new year without channels such as FX, Fuel, Speed TV and Fox Soccer.
Media giants News Corp. and Time Warner Cable are fighting over money, and the dispute could lead to some Fox channels going dark on Jan. 1. The two companies are still in negotiations and their current contract expires Dec. 31.
News Corp. today began warning Time Warner Cable customers about the "very likely possibility" that they will lose access to Fox programming.
In some markets where News Corp. owns the local Fox stations, the dispute could affect Fox's flagship channel, home to popular shows such as "Glee," "House" and "American Idol."
But the Triangle's Fox 50 affiliate is owned by Raleigh-based Capitol Broadcasting and is not part of the dispute, said Time Warner Cable spokeswoman Melissa Buscher.
The bickering could lead to local cable customers losing other channels owned by News Corp., including FX, home to shows such as "Nip/Tuck," "Damages" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." Other channels include Fuel, Speed TV, Fox Reality and Fox Sports World Espanol.
"We're hoping Fox will allow us to carry the programming even if negotiations continue past Dec. 31," Buscher said. "It's our hope that Fox won't punish our customers while they try to reach an agreement."
Fox Sports South, which shows some ACC games, isn't affected, Buscher said.
Scott Grogin, a spokesman with Fox Networks Group, confirmed that Fox 50 and Capitol Broadcasting aren't part of the transmission dispute, but declined further comment on whether other Fox channels could go dark.
Time Warner Cable will look for replacement programming for the channels if they are pulled, Buscher said. And the company will "educate" viewers about other ways to see shows, such as online streaming.
The cable provider serves more than 800,000 customers in the market that stretches from Raleigh to the coast.
The company, one of the country's largest cable-TV providers, recently started its own marketing campaign where it asked customers to vote whether it should "roll over or get tough" with broadcasters and programmers that are demanding more money. Those higher fees would result in costs passed on to customers, Time Warner argues.
News Corp. contends in a prepared statement it is "simply asking for fair compensation for the impressive value our Fox programming offers."
Earlier this month, Time Warner Cable announced that it reached a one-year extension of its transmission deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group. In the Triangle, that meant that cable-TV customers won't lose access to the CW and MyNetwork Television, two stations owned by Sinclair.
Last year, Time Warner Cable had a public spat with Viacom that nearly resulted in local customers losing access to channels such as MTV and Nickelodeon on Jan. 1. That deal was resolved at the last minute.