Viacom, TWC Keep Wrangling Over iPad Live TV App


Time Warner Cable and Viacom continue to exchange legal fire over the operator's iPad app for live TV, with Viacom seeking to dismiss a TWC counterclaim in the dispute that the media company breached a 2004 "content clause" in their distribution deal for CMT because the network strayed too far afield from country-music programming.

On Wednesday, Viacom filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and a Texas state court to dismiss Time Warner Cable's counterclaim regarding CMT in the iPad matter.

In an Oct. 3 filing, Time Warner Cable said CMT's country-music programming "has been replaced almost entirely by movies and television series, which for the most part bear no relationship to country music."

Viacom countered that the disputes are wholly unrelated. "TWC cannot possibly contend that CMT's purported failure to abide by the 2004 Content Clause is somehow linked to TWC's decision to distribute Viacom programming to iPads," the media company said in the filing.

TWCable TV iPad 2.0

Time Warner Cable said in a statement, "We believe that the case belongs in New York, we feel that we are right on the merits and we look forward to the court's eventual decision."

Viacom had filed an action May 24 in the Texas state court seeking a ruling invalidating TWC's claim that CMT violated the affiliate agreement's content clause.

In the iPad case, Viacom filed a lawsuit April 7 against TWC alleging breach of contract and copyright violation. Time Warner Cable the same day sued Viacom seeking a ruling that the cable operator has the rights under its carriage agreement to deliver Viacom's programming to any device in a subscriber's home.

In a joint filing in June, Viacom and TWC entered into a "standstill agreement," which put the litigation on hold while they try to reach terms privately.

Cablevision Systems this spring launched a similar iPad app -- and was also hauled into court by Viacom, before the two parties resolved their differences for undisclosed terms. In the last two weeks, both DirecTV and Bright House Networks launched streaming-TV apps that include none of Viacom's networks.

Time Warner Cable contends that the iPad app is covered under existing affiliate deals, because the programming is delivered to subscribers in their homes over a secure network to a tablet device that just happens to have a smaller screen than conventional TVs.

This week TWC said it plans to release a version of the app for Android-based tablets as soon as late November.

Viacom's position is that delivering video to iPads does not constitute "cable TV" and requires a separate agreement. In addition, the programmer cited concerns that shows watched on devices such as iPads are not currently counted toward Nielsen ratings.