WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., has asked the Federal Communications Commission to stop Time Warner Cable from blacking out CBS programming.
"I believe the public interest would be best served if carriage is restored by the parties at the earliest possible time so that consumers are not long caught in the middle," Markey said in a letter to the FCC, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
Time Warner and CBS are negotiating a new contract and CBS, Time Warner says, is demanding exorbitant fees for its content. The cable company, in response, has blacked out CBS programming in various locations, including New York City and Los Angeles.
CBS, in turn, has been blocking Internet access from Time Warner Internet subscribers, the Times said.
But Markey said the behavior was "anti-consumer," and wants it to stop.
"A consumer's choice of cable television provider should not be tied to her ability to access Internet content that is freely available to other consumers. In such instances, consumers lose their freedom to access the Internet content of their choice," he said.
Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., a member of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, said in a statement that companies should not use customers as leverage in a dispute.
"It has been my long held belief that consumers should not be held hostage when retransmission disputes break down. I also intend to carefully examine whether changes to current law are needed to adequately protect consumers and prevent the recurrence of blackouts," Eshoo said.