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No habla Espanol this time for Saturday's Cowboys game


Saturday night’s “dress rehearsal” Cowboys-Bengals game, in which most starters traditionally play the entire first half, will be without a live Spanish language outlet in D-FW.

Telemundo 39 director of marketing Arturo Sobarzo said Thursday via email that the station “was not cleared to air this game live.” Instead, Telemundo 39 will rebroadcast the game at 10 p.m., again leaving CBS11 as the only live option for the viewing area’s roughly 400,000 Time Warner cable homes. Both CBS11 and its sister station, TXA21, continue to be blacked out by TWC in a rights fees dispute that has now lasted nearly three weeks.

The game against Cincinnati starts at 7 p.m., and is the first of this year’s pre-season games to originate from Jerry’s Palace in Arlington. Last week’s 12-7 loss in Arizona was shown live by both CBS11 and Telemundo 39, which belatedly received the go-ahead from corporate headquarters, Sobarzo said. So far it’s the only pre-season game to be carried live in D-FW by a station other than CBS11 or NBC5, which earlier had the annual Hall of Fame game. CBS11 also has the final Cowboys pre-season game, at home against the Houston Texans.

The Cowboys’ pre-season ratings have been substantially down from last year’s. The game against Arizona drew 330,442 D-FW viewers on CBS11 and another 17,211 on Telemundo 39, according to Nielsen Media Research. The total of 347,653 was more than 225,000 fewer than the 582,573 viewers for Game 3 of the 2012 pre-season.

The Time Warner standoff stands in sharp contrast to the No. 1-rated network’s dealings with Verizon Fios, which has just inked a new three-year deal with CBS and Showtime (which also is being blacked out in Time Warner homes). Time Warner and Verizon Fios both have the bulk of their customers in three major markets in which CBS has owned and operated stations -- D-FW, New York and Los Angeles. According to CBS, the majority of Verizon Fios’ 5 million subscribers live in these markets. Time Warner’s customer load is about 3.2 million in D-FW, New York and L.A.

Only CBS’ owned-and-operated stations are affected by the blackout, with network affiliates outside of D-FW still showing CBS programming in Time Warner homes.

In a widely circulated memo to employees Thursday, CBS Corporation president and CEO Leslie Moonves said that Time Warner “has been offered almost exactly the same deal for CBS carriage to which Verizon has agreed.”

Moonves didn’t stop there. “I cannot describe to you the frustration I feel at the way these negotiations (with Time Warner) have gone,” he said. “Never in my most pessimistic moments did I ever think that they would have lasted this long and have been so difficult. In many aspects of the deal, Time Warner Cable is demanding different terms than any other company in the business. I am frankly mystified by what appears to be a lack of urgency to resolve this matter for their customers.”

Time Warner, which is balking at a retransmission rate increase demanded by CBS, lately has been mum in the face of an increasing public relations nightmare. The cable giant has been targeted by various class action suits and David Letterman, who gleefully has pounced since returning to his CBS’ Late Show Monday after an extended vacation. On Wednesday’s edition, he referred to “the evil goons at Time Warner.” On Tuesday he said flatly, “Time Warner doesn’t want you to enjoy life.”

Most observers, including your friendly content provider, never thought it would come to any sort of blackout. Now most observers expect CBS and Time Warner to settle their differences before the early September start of the NFL season.

As time marches on, though, CBS may be able to demand even higher fees from a battered Time Warner. The network’s current reported asking price of $2 per month per subscriber (up from a reported $1) perhaps could move north a few more dimes. After all, what leverage does TWC really have after both the NFL and the new fall TV season kick in?

The correct answer is: None.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net