The dispute between MSO Charter Communications and Fox Sports Midwest is going down to the wire. Charter faced a midnight-Friday deadline to agree to a higher license fee or take the network off its 250,000-subscriber suburban-St. Louis operation. Charter is balking at the demand for a rate hike that Chairman Jerry Kent said would double the MSO's current license fee. Kent was off Friday afternoon to tape a commercial with an explanation to subscribers in case the channel goes dark. Fox Sports put out a statement aiming the blame at Kent: "If Charter, indeed, opts to discontinue our relationship, we respect their prerogative." Kent said, however, "Rest assured that Charter will not take it off. If people wake up Saturday morning and Fox Sports isn't there, it's not because Charter did it."