In its pursuit of a bigger share of pay-television fees, CBS Corp. plays hardball. Last summer it humbled Time Warner Cable Inc. in a month-long blackout that cost TWC hundreds of thousands of subscribers. This summer, CBS has turned its attention to its TV-station affiliates' share of pay-TV fees. Last week CBS stripped an Indianapolis television station of its affiliation with the network, switching to another company's station at year-end, after a fee disagreement. The timing couldn't have been worse: The station's owner, LIN Media LLC, was due to be acquired by broadcaster Media General for $1.6 billion in the biggest TV-station merger of the year. On Wednesday, the impact of CBS's affiliation switch became apparent when Media General cut the price it is paying for LIN by nearly 7%, or more than $100 million, citing the CBS move, among other factors. Without the CBS affiliation-and the prime time network programming that comes with it—the station will be forced to acquire other programming to show at night, likely causing the station's tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue to decline, according to Gabelli & Co.
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