* Cablevision says forced to buy channels it did not want
* Viacom calls lawsuit hypocritical
March 7 Cablevision Systems Corp has
accused Viacom Inc of having "strong-armed" it into
forcing it to pay for low-rated channels it did not want in
order to access better-known channels such as Comedy Central,
MTV and Nickelodeon.
The allegations were revealed in an antitrust lawsuit made
public, with some language blacked out, on Thursday in Manhattan
Cablevision said that to obtain some of Viacom's most
popular channels, Viacom forced it to distribute "some dozen
other Viacom networks, which Viacom calls Suite Networks, that
many Cablevision subscribers do not watch and for which
Cablevision would prefer to substitute competing networks."
Viacom in a statement called the lawsuit "nothing more than
a hypocritical attempt by Cablevision to void a long-term
carriage deal they agreed to only two months ago."
Industry experts are watching to see whether the case breaks
new ground in the debate over "bundling."
This is where programmers such as Viacom sell packages of
channels to distributors such as Cablevision, rather than sell
only channels that the distributors want.
Bundling can help programmers boost profit, but can also
result in viewers paying higher cable fees as distributors pass
on the extra costs.
The case is Cablevision Systems Corp et al, v. Viacom
International Inc et al., U.S. District Court, Southern District
of New York, 13-01278.