Viacom files suit against Cablevision over iPad application


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The battle between programmers and cable operators over streaming content on Apple’s iPad and other tablet devices just got nastier.

Viacom Inc., whose holdings include cable networks MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, has filed a lawsuit against Cablevision Systems Inc. demanding that the cable operator stop making Viacom’s channels available to iPad users. The suit was filed Thursday morning in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.


“We have taken this action to protect our valuable content,’ Viacom said in a statement.

The suit is similar to one Viacom filed earlier this year against Time Warner Cable in the same court. On Wednesday, both Time Warner Cable and Viacom told the court the two companies had entered into a standstill agreement and asked that legal proceedings be halted while the two tried to reach a deal.

The lawsuit against Cablevision, which has over 3 million subscribers primarily in New York City and Long Island, accuses the cable operator of violating its contract and says that Viacom has never granted the right to offer its programming via anything other than cable.

Whatever goodwill exists between Viacom and Time Warner Cable over the issue is non-existent with Cablevision Systems Inc. Time Warner Cable pulled Viacom’s channels when the programmer raised concerns, and then the two companies exchanged suits. But Cablevision has disregarded Viacom’s requests to have its channels removed from the iPad service.

‘Over the last few months, we have had limited and unproductive discussions with Cablevision about licensing iPad rights,’ Viacom said in its statement. ‘We remain open to productive discussions, but we cannot wait indefinitely while our networks are being distributed without permission.”

‘Cablevision’s very popular Optimum App for iPad, which has been available to our customers for nearly three months, falls within our existing cable television licensing agreements with programmers – including Viacom,’ Cablevision said in response to the suit.

Fights between distributors such as Cablevision and programmers such as Viacom are becoming more common. Distributors want to be able to offer their services on new platforms in an effort to fight cord-cutting by consumers. Programmers want to be compensated more if their channels are going onto new platforms.


-- Joe Flint


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