updated 10:32 pm EST, Tue February 26, 2013
Suit sets the table for an industry-wide discussion about cable practices
Cablevision Systems has filed an antitrust lawsuit with the US District Court in the Southern District of New York, accusing Viacom of mandating that it pay for more than a dozen poorly-viewed cable networks as a prerequisite to access more popular channels. The lawsuit could possibly affect the status quo between content owners and operators of selling bundles of cable channels, as opposed to an a la carte offering.
"Viacom effectively forces Cablevision's customers to pay for and receive little-watched channels in order to get the channels they actually want," Cablevision said in a statement regarding the suit. Cablevision's CEO has dropped channels from the lineup instead of agreeing to higher fees for content. Previously, the cable company has blacked out Fox and Tribune channels in similar disputes to this one.
The suit seeks to void a December 2012 rebroadcast agreement signed between Cablevision and Viacom. Additionally, Cablevision wants Viacom prevented from making similar deals. Channels named as less desirable, but required purchases are CMT, MTV Hits, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, Palladia, and VH1 Classic.
Viacom said it "will vigorously defend this transparent attempt by Cablevision to use the courts to renegotiate our existing two-month-old agreement."