Cablevision Awaiting Apple Approval For iPad Video App

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Cablevision Systems is ready to launch an iPad app that will let subscribers access their full TV lineups and video-on-demand content at home, but is waiting for Apple's approval -- a delay the cable operator says has nothing to do with objections programmers have raised about a similar app from Time Warner Cable.

"We have launched our Optimum App for iPad on Cablevision's campus and in approximately 100 employee homes and it works wonderfully," spokesman Jim Maiella said in a statement Thursday. "The application has been submitted to Apple and, upon its approval, will be available to our cable television customers."

Cablevision executives have repeatedly asserted that the streaming-video iPad application is covered under existing TV carriage deals because the app limits viewing of live TV and VOD to a subscriber's home. The MSO was expecting to soft-launch the iPad app on Thursday at midnight Eastern, but has had to hold off pending the Apple approval.

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That's the same rationale Time Warner Cable has used to justify its own iPad streaming video app, which since its March 15 debut has prompted several programmers to complain that it's outside the bounds of what is allowed under existing agreements.

On Wednesday, News Corp.'s Fox Cable Networks sent a cease-and-desist notice to Time Warner Cable demanding that it stop offering channels, including FX and National Geographic Channel, through its recently launched iPad app. Time Warner Cable says the app continues to be available for free to customers with the same 32-channel lineup.

Like Cablevision, Time Warner Cable maintains that it has licensed the right to deliver "programming signals to customers in their homes, and we have never designated what screen the customer has the rights to access it on," TWC chief programming officer Melinda Witmer said in an interview Tuesday.

Among cable operators, Cablevision has a history of particularly combative relations with programmers.

For example, the New York-area MSO in 2006 engineered a prototype of the RS-DVR -- a network-based digital video recorder service -- only to be sued by a coalition of TV programmers, movie studios and other content owners alleging the service violated copyright laws. The MSO prevailed in 2009 after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider an appeal of a lower court ruling that Cablevision was within its rights with the network-based DVR service.

Cablevision launched RS-DVR, under the service name DVR Plus, to Bronx subscribers on Jan. 18 and no longer offers conventional DVR set-tops to subscribers in that area.

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