Viacom sues Cablevision over its TV-streaming optimum for iPad app and wants a revised agreement before it sees its content appear on new screens, but Cablevision claims that cable service on the iPad is the same as on any TV. The lawsuit is filed in federal court in Manhattan for amid a broader battle between media companies and cable operators over the rights to supply TV programs and movies on the Internet and mobile devices…………
Viacom Inc. sued Cablevision Systems Corp. to halt what it called the unauthorized streaming of its programing on devices such as Apple‘s iPad and the lawsuit was filed on Thursday in Manhattan federal court, one day after court documents showed that Cablevision‘s larger rival Time Warner Cable Inc and Viacom are trying to settle a similar dispute. In April, Time Warner Cable and Viacom each filed lawsuits over the Time Warner Cable TV app for iPad. The app, which allows Time Warner Cable customers to watch live broadcast streams from various stations was deemed by Viacom (who owns cable networks Comedy Central and MTV, among others) to violate the channel distribution agreement by the two parties. Time Warner Cable disagreed, arguing that it was essential for it to broaden its offerings. The Wall Street Journal says the two companies have “entered into a standstill agreement” as they enter talks to bring the channels back to the iPad app. Viacom is suing Cablevision over its iPad app. Like Time Warner’s app, Cablevision’s Optimum app for the iPad allows users to stream and access on-demand content from any station on their cable package, provided they access the content from their home. Cablevision has refused to remove channels from its app, while Viacom has called licensing discussions “limited and unproductive.”
Cablevision has responded to the lawsuit with a statement:
“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. It is cable television service on the iPad, which functions as a television, and is delivered securely to our customers in the home on Cablevision’s own proprietary network.”
The streaming issue raises some interesting questions about what actually separates a device like the iPad from a traditional cable box. After all, it’s the same content sent digitally, whether received by an app or a set-top box. Cable networks worry that apps turning iPads into TVs will undermine some of their ratings (not to mention prevent the companies from getting more money from cable providers or customers by providing iPad access to content).