Just one day after Viacom (NYSE: VIA) and Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) agreed to put their litigation over iPad streaming on “hold,” Viacom has filed a fresh lawsuit over iPad streaming-this one against Cablevision (NYSE: CVC).
The crux of the dispute is the same as the dispute Viacom is having with Time Warner. Viacom believes that if cable companies want to transmit the shows and channels owned by Viacom to iPads, they need to pay a licensing fee to Viacom. The cable companies argue that iPads are simply another screen in the household, and they are already covered by the existing contracts, which don’t require additional payments for extra television screens.
Viacom isn’t the only content company upset about the new iPad apps, but it’s been quite vocal and is the only channel provider-so far-to take the dispute into the courtroom. Cablevision probably saw this coming, as the lawsuit (embedded below) shows that the two companies made their positions on the issue clear to each other before Cablevision launched its iPad app on April 2.
The suit against Cablevision makes similar arguments to the one against TWC. In addition to allegations of breach of contract, the suits include claims for copyright and trademark infringement.
One of Viacom’s complaints is that the unauthorized iPad apps prevent Viacom from getting an accurate measure of the size of the audience watching its programs, which means it might lose money. Viacom often guarantees advertisers a certain audience size for their ads. If a program under-delivers in ratings, Viacom pays a penalty to the advertiser, either by providing a discount on the ad or free future advertising time.
In addition, Viacom states that its “future business plan” includes selling its content to broadband content distributors; and it believes that iPad apps like the one Cablevision is using jeopardize those plans.
In response to an inquiry about the lawsuit, a Viacom spokeswoman provided this statement: “We have taken this action to protect our valuable content. Over the last few months, we have had limited and unproductive discussions with Cablevision about licensing iPad rights. We remain open to productive discussions, but we cannot wait indefinitely while our networks are being distributed without permission.”
Cablevision’s response: “Cablevision’s very popular Optimum App for iPad, which has been available to our customers for nearly three months, falls within our existing cable television licensing agreements with programmers – including Viacom. It is cable television service on the iPad, which functions as a television, and is delivered securely to our customers in the home on Cablevision’s own proprietary network.”
Embedded below is the public (redacted) version of the suit.