April 8, 2011
Time Warner has asked a court to determine whether it has the right to stream channels it carries using its month-old TWCable TV iPad app. In kind, Viacom has filed a lawsuit of its own against the cable giant. This sets up a classic battle between leaders in the entertainment industry. The cable company, according to a press release, has asked the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for a declaratory judgment relating to Viacom cable networks. This request asks for the court to decide whether its carriage agreements with networks allows it to deliver programming on “devices of its video customers’ choosing, including iPads, in their home.” Marc Lawrence-Apfelbaum, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Time Warner Cable said:
"We have steadfastly maintained that we have the rights to allow our customers to view this programming in their homes, over our cable systems, without artificial limits on the screens they can use to do so, and we are asking the court to confirm our view. With over 360,000 downloads of our TWCableTV™ app, it is clear that our customers welcome the convenience and flexibility our new app provides."Viacom, for its part, states:
"It is willing to discuss extension of similar rights to others - including TWC. What Viacom cannot do, however, is permit one of its contracting partners, TWC, to unilaterally change the terms of its contractual relationship."In other words, Viacom is willing to allow live streaming to the iPad of its programming, but only after a new agreement is made between the two companies. This issue started when Time Warner released its free TWCable app in March, allowing existing customers to stream certain networks to their iDevice, as long as it resided on the same Wi-Fi network. On March 24, Time Warner received a cease and desist order from an unnamed network demanding it stop streaming its content. One week later, channels owned by Discovery, Fox, and Viacom were pulled from the app. In the meantime, Time Warner has continued adding channels to its TWCable lineup. To date, 43 cable channels are available for streaming. This issue is more than giant cable companies fighting networks over streaming rights. Ultimately, it puts consumers in the middle. And, depending on the legal outcome, could lead to big changes on how each of us access our programming choices. What do you think? Leave your comments below.
Time Warner Cable