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Time Warner Cable Sued by Customers Fed Up with CBS Blackout

Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Time Warner Cable customers are waging a legal war against the cable company for dropping CBS while the companies bicker over cable fees.

Three plaintiffs filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Time Warner Cable Inc. in Los Angeles County Superior Court.  They hope to build their case into a class action with Time Warner Cable subscribers in California starting from Aug. 2, 2013, when the cable company began to block out four channels in the state.

About 3.5 million customers in areas of Dallas, Los Angeles and New York don't have access to CBS programming such as Under the Dome and Big Brother.

Time Warner is battling over fees it pays to CBS to run its programming.  The cable company has marketed aggressively to customers, encouraging them to complain to CBS.

The lawsuit filed this week cites Time Warner's "failure" to provide its cable subscribers with broadcast channels CBS, Showtime and Movie Channel "while nonetheless continuing to collect from subscribers, and retain the full monthly service fees for monthly cable subscription."

Lead plaintiff James Armstrong of Hermosa Beach, Calif., accuses Time Warner Cable of breach of contract, unfair business practices, unjust enrichment and unconscionability, in the suit.

Armstrong and his attorney, Elaine Nguyen of Weintraub & Selth, declined to comment.

From August 2011, Armstrong has subscribed to Time Warner's enhanced basic cable services and also Showtime, which is bundled with the Movie Channel, the lawsuit states, in addition to subscribing to Time Warner's bundled package for Internet services.

Prior to its dispute with CBS, according to the lawsuit, Time Warner Cable "utilized Showtime as a significant incentive to induce customer subscriptions of general cable services through advertisement and marketing materials."

Time Warner Cable, incorporated in Delaware with its main place of business in New York City, is the second-largest operator of cable television systems in the U.S., according to the lawsuit, and the largest cable provider for all of Los Angeles and Orange counties.  The company has "millions of subscribers," the lawsuit says.

A spokeswoman for Time Warner Cable declined to comment to ABC News.

In a statement on its website, the company said, "CBS is making outrageous demands for the right to continue carrying their channels.  We are holding the line against broadcasters who continue to make their stations available free over-the-air and online while they demand more from cable customers without delivering any additional value."

CBS has said, "We remain ready to negotiate in good faith when they are."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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