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Cable Operators

Viacom, Time Warner Cable Suspend Legal War Over iPad App

6/23/2011 10:23 AM Eastern

Time Warner Cable and Viacom have called a temporary cease-fire in their legal fight over the operator's iPad app for streaming live TV, as the companies try to work out a deal at the bargaining table.

On April 7, Time Warner Cable filed a lawsuit in federal district court 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. Viacom responded with a lawsuit against TWC alleging breach of contract and copyright violation.

Time Warner Cable TWCable TV appBoth suits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In a joint filing approved by the court Wednesday, Viacom and TWC have entered into a "standstill agreement," which went into effect June 17. The agreement may be terminated by either party given five days notice.

The companies declined to comment beyond what was in the court filing. The Viacom networks remain unavailable through the TWCable TV app.

TWC launched the app on March 15. Viacom immediately sent a cease-and-desist letter to the cable operator, demanding that its networks be removed. Those channels were BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike and VH1.

Discovery Communications and News Corp.'s Fox Cable Networks also demanded TWC pull their networks, but subsequently both reached agreements with the operator and their networks were returned to the service April 15.

Separately, Cablevision Systems in early April released its own free iPad app, which lets subscribers watch up to 300 live TV channels and access more than 2,200 video-on-demand titles.

Viacom did some saber-rattling about the Cablevision app, complaining that the MSO "seized distribution rights that Viacom has not granted," but the media company didn't proceed down a legal route.

September