Washington, D.C. (March 8, 2013) -
Cablevision says Viacom demanded to be paid more than $1 billion if the
cable operator did not carry Viacom's lower-rated channels as
well as its more popular channels such as Comedy Central.
The charge was revealed yesterday in court papers filed by
Cablevision for its anti-trust lawsuit against Viacom. The cable
operator is suing Viacom
for allegedly forcing
it to carry 14 low-rated channels as part of an agreement to
carry MTV, Comedy Central and others. The cable operator is asking a
federal court in the Southern District of New York to void the
current carriage agreement between the two companies and stop
Viacom from bundling its channels in the future. Cablevision
cited Palladia, VH1 Classic, Nicktoons and CMT among the
channels it didn't want but was forced to carry to also get MTV
and Comedy Central.
Reuters reports that Cablevision argues that it could have used
system space and dollars for higher-rated channels from other
programmers if Viacom did
not force it to carry the low-rated networks.
The wire service quotes Viacom as saying that Cablevision got a
discount for carrying all of its channels and that the cable
operator is simply trying to renegotiate a contract it no longer
The outcome of the Viacom-Cablevision case could have widespread
ramifications on future negotiations between programmers and TV
providers. If the concept of bundling channels is struck down or
weakened, programmers may be less likely to launch channels that
appeal to small, but often highly loyal, audiences. Plus, TV
providers may begin charging differently for the channels they
do carry, although it's highly unlikely that they will agree to
a la Carte plans.