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Cablevision: Viacom Wanted $1B Plus In Bundle Beef
By Swanni

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 likes.

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.

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