Fox says it's ready to pull its stations from Time Warner Cable lineups at midnight in its dispute with the cable operator over subscriber fees. News Corp president and COO Chase Carey wrote in a memo to staffers, "it looks like we will not reach an agreement and our channels may very well go off the air in Time Warner Cable systems at midnight [Dec. 31]," putting the 2010 fate of shows like American Idol, House and 24, not to mention sports programming like the Sugar Bowl, in jeopardy.

News Corp. wants to be paid $1 per subscriber, while TWC only wants to pay 30 cents per subscriber—and doesn't want to set a $1/subscriber precedent with ABC, NBC or CBS. TWC chairman Glenn Britt said it would agree to binding arbitration, "We continue to hope that Fox won't punish our customers by taking their programming away while we continue to negotiate," but News Corp has refused; the Daily News reports that Carey "[said] it would only allow the cable company to reap more profits from Fox programming."

TWC claims it'll have to pass the costs to the customers, but News Corp says that's "disingenuous." The latest is that Time Warner Cable has agreed to a 30-day cooling off period and News Corp. is being urged to do the same. TWC's latest statement: "Our customers should not be held hostage over a business negotiation and we implore Fox to not make America's living rooms a corporate battleground."