News Corp.’s Fox tells Time Warner Cable to stop offering its channels on the iPad
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News Corp. and Time Warner Cable are trading blows again.
This time it’s over an iPad app Time Warner Cable launched this month that allows its subscribers to watch live television in their homes on the Apple device. News Corp., parent of several cable networks including FX, sent a letter to Time Warner Cable telling the pay-TV distributor to stop streaming its channels on the iPad, representatives of both companies confirmed.
Many programmers believe their contracts with Time Warner Cable don’t grant it rights to stream channels to tablet devices such as Apple’s iPad. Time Warner Cable, which has close to 15 million subscribers, has countered that it thinks it has the legal right to stream the content to any device in the home of a subscriber, not just the television.
The iPad application does not work outside a subscriber’s home, raising the question of its practicality although it has already proved to be popular. In an ad touting the device, Time Warner Cable shows a woman watching TV on her iPad while taking a bath, which seems like risky behavior given that a typical iPad runs north of $500.
Other programmers that have expressed concern about Time Warner Cable’s move include Scripps Networks, parent of the Food Network and Home & Garden Television; Viacom, parent of MTV; and Discovery Communications, parent of Discovery Channel and TLC.
Whether the programmers really don’t want their content on iPads or just want to be paid extra for it or want to be the ones in charge of that distribution platform is part of the debate with Time Warner Cable. Other distributors, including Cablevision and Comcast, also plan on offering similar iPad apps in the near future.
Bad blood between Time Warner Cable and News Corp. is nothing new. Last year, the two companies got in an ugly spat over fees News Corp.’s Fox wanted from Time Warner Cable in return for carriage of their channels.
-- Joe Flint
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