News Corp's Fox television unit said on Friday that testy carriage negotiations with Time Warner Cable Inc could leave viewers unable to see Fox programing, including American Idol and NFL football.

Fox said it has for the past nine months attempted to negotiate in good faith with Time Warner Cable, the No. 2 U.S. cable operator, which serves some 14 million customers, and said those talks are ongoing.

But there is a very likely possibility that Time Warner Cable may choose to no longer carry Fox Broadcasting, Fox Cable and Fox regional sports programing, Fox said.

Time Warner Cable confirmed that the talks are ongoing but said Fox's current demands are unreasonable and excessive, especially in this economic climate.

We hope Fox won't punish our customers by taking their programing away while we try to reach an agreement, said spokeswoman Maureen Huff.

Heated disputes over transmission rights sometimes boil over, to the detriment of viewers. In 2000, a similar dispute between Walt Disney Co and Time Warner left millions temporarily unable to see Disney's ABC-TV programs on Time Warner cable systems. Customers saw only a blue screen and a banner headline proclaiming Disney has taken ABC away from you.

Time Warner Cable is also in negotiations with Scripps Networks Interactive Inc and others. Earlier this month it reached an agreement to extend its agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.