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Deadline looms for WANE-TV

CBS programming could end at WANE-TV 15 if station owner LIN Media and Time Warner Cable don’t reach a retransmission agreement by a looming deadline.

WANE broadcasts various CBS shows including “NCIS” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

LIN posted a notice on the WANE-TV website to advise viewers that CBS shows will go dark if an agreement isn’t reached by 5 p.m. May 31.

Time Warner spokesman Mike Hogan on Thursday said the company takes offense at LIN attempting to engage viewers in negotiations. Hogan said his company is simply trying to do what’s best for all parties.

“We continue to take a stand against unreasonable fee increases by local broadcast TV stations,” Hogan said. “We are pushing back against broadcasters that demand more money without delivering more value.”

A LIN representative could not be reached Thursday. The WANE-TV website statement said the “rates we are asking for are a fraction of what Time Warner pays” for cable networks like AMC, Spike TV and MTV.

Sears’ reported loss bigger than expected

Sears Holdings Corp. reported a steeper-than-expected loss for its first quarter, with the beleaguered retailer blaming a cooler spring for falling sales.

The operator of Sears and Kmart stores also said it’s considering strategic options for its service-agreement business, such as selling it off, to raise cash. Under service agreements, customers pay an extra fee when buying an appliance and the company agrees to fix or replace it if it breaks within a certain time.

The news, which comes more than three months after hedge fund billionaire and Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert took over as CEO, sent Sears’ shares down almost 13 percent to $50.74.

For the quarter, Sears said sales at stores open at least a year fell 3.6 percent, with the company noting that much of the country experienced a cooler spring than last year.

The metric is a key gauge of financial health because it strips out the effect of newly opened and closed locations. The company has posted six straight years of declining sales at stores open at least a year.

Jobless aid requests fall to 340,000

The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits fell 23,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 340,000, a level consistent with solid job growth.

The less volatile four-week average ticked down just 500 to 339,500, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s close to the five-year low of 338,000 reached during the first week of May. The four-week average is 9 percent lower than in November.

“The underlying story in jobless claims continues to be one of gradual improvement,” Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas, wrote in a research report.

Since November, employers have added an average 208,000 jobs a month. That’s up from just 138,000 jobs a month during the previous six months.

Rue21 to go private in $1 billion deal

Clothing and accessories company Rue21 has agreed to be taken private in a nearly $1 billion deal with private equity firm Apax Partners. Shares hit an all-time high Thursday.

Apax will pay $42 per share, a 23 percent premium to Rue21 Inc.’s Wednesday closing price of $34.12. The companies put the deal’s total value at $1.1 billion.