You know that when cable and content companies set up competing websites to defend their cases in retrans fights that the brinksmanship portion of negotiations is officially underway. Such is the case for CBS and Time Warner Cable, whose current retransmission consent deal expires July 24. The original contract inked in 2009 expired in June, but talks between the nation’s most-watched network and the second-largest cable company were ongoing so both agreed to extend the deal to 5 PM ET on Wednesday. Time Warner Cable at TWCConversations.com argues that CBS is seeking a more than 600% hike in fees. “Les Moonves, President and CEO of CBS, has always been outspoken about the programming fees he believes he deserves”, the site reads. “He has said ‘the sky is the limit’ when talking about the price he thinks he deserves for his CBS stations, and he clearly means it. He doesn’t seem to care about our customers’ budgets or the going rates for CBS programming.” As part of its own marketing push, CBS has launched a TV campaign and a website, KeepCBS.com, that features said ad (check it out below). The spot is starting to crop up on CBS stations and features ominous music and a TV set with a chain draped over it, with the narrator saying “Time Warner Cable is holding your favorite shows hostage”. It also boasts that CBS has never been dropped from a cable provider. The cities at risk in this fight rep some of the nation’s biggest media markets and they are the targets of the CBS ad: New York (WCBS and WLNY) Los Angeles (KCBS and KCAL), Dallas, Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit and Denver. Stay tuned.

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