Time Warner Cable, Viacom Lawyer Up in App Spat

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After weeks of sparring between Time Warner Cable and Viacom over the cable company’s March 15 release of an app allowing customers to stream live programming (including Viacom’s) over iPads, the pair is going to court.

On Thursday, Time Warner filed a request for a declarative judgment affirming the cable company permission to stream Viacom channels to any device within a customer’s home. Last week, in response to demands from Viacom and other content providers, Time Warner had been forced to pull their programming from the app.

The same day, Viacom responded by filing its own injunction seeking to prevent Time Warner from putting their channels back on the app, and claiming that Time Warner doesn’t have permission to do so under the companies’ rights agreement. Not only do networks want compensation for streaming rights, they also fear that they won’t get sufficient ad revenue for viewership over the iPad app because it’s not tracked by Nielsen.

Time Warner’s Jeff Simmermon posted an explanation of the company’s suit on the Time Warner blog, asserting it is not hostile. “We’re at an impasse with a handful of network owners, and we need an impartial third party to referee the situation and confirm that our interpretation is correct,” he said. “If we weren’t completely certain that we had the rights to distribute television to our customers’ iPads within their homes, we wouldn’t be asking for the court’s attention.”

In a statement, Viacom said, “Time Warner Cable removed our programming from this service only when they were threatened with a lawsuit and, now, it is asking the court to declare their brazen acts lawful. With $5.2 billion in cash from operations last year, Time Warner Cable can certainly afford to provide our programming through this new broadband service without passing along any additional costs to its customers.”

@adweekemma emma.bazilian@adweek.com Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.
Publish date: April 8, 2011 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/time-warner-cable-viacom-lawyer-app-spat-126180/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT