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Cable Operators

Lawsuits Fly in Feud Over iPad

4/11/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

The clash over whether in-home
access to live TV on iPads is covered under existing
carriage deals erupted in dueling lawsuits last week.

Time Warner Cable
filed a request for declaratory
judgment in a
federal court April 7 relating
to Viacom cable
networks, seeking a ruling
that the cable operator
has the rights under
its carriage agreement
to deliver Viacom’s programming
to any device
in a subscriber’s home —
while Viacom responded
that it will sue TWC for
breach of contract and
copyright violation.

Both suits were filed
in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District
of New York.

“We have steadfastly maintained that we have the
rights to allow our customers to view this programming
in their homes, over our cable systems, without artificial
limits on the screens they can use to do so, and we are
asking the court to confirm our view,” Time Warner Cable
executive vice president and general counsel Marc
Lawrence-Apfelbaum said in a statement.

Viacom countered that “Time Warner Cable simply
launched the product without a license to distribute
our programming through an iPad app. They blatantly
grabbed the rights that their competitors have negotiated
in good faith to obtain.”

TWC launched the app on March 15. Subsequently,
Viacom sent a cease-and-desist letter to the cable operator,
demanding that its programming be removed.

Discovery Communications and News Corp.’s Fox Cable
Networks also demanded TWC pull their networks;
however, they are not named in the MSO’s suit. The cable
operator removed 12 networks on March 31: Discovery’s
Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and TLC; Fox’s FX and
National Geographic Channel; and Viacom’s BET, CMT,
Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike and VH1.

Separately, Cablevision Systems launched an iPad app
earlier this month but at press time was not party to any
specific legal action (see Platforms).

September