Time Warner Cable Moves Ahead With Its Controversial iPad App

Network executives have argued the company does not have the right to live stream their channels under existing deals, but TW Cable plans to add more networks to the app, and its programming chief calls TV “an anachronistic term.”

NEW YORK – In a continuing showdown with programming partners, a top Time Warner Cable executive said her company is "well within our rights" to stream live TV channels to iPads in subscribers’ homes via a controversial app and is planning to add all networks available on TWC to the app’s channel lineup.

Melinda Witmer, the cable giant’s chief programming officer, made the comments in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

She said TWC has the rights to beam channels to devices in people’s homes as long as it sends signals through its cables and secure network rather than the "open Internet." The app works only when linked to subscribers' home Internet connections, she said.

A dispute between TWC and cable network owners started last week when the cable operator released an iPad app, without asking networks for permission, that makes 32 live channels available anywhere in a subscriber’s home. Witmer told the Journal that TWC plans to expand the app to include the company’s full lineup of channels.

The TWC app crashed on its first day amid high consumer demand.

Scripps Networks Interactive, whose Food Network is part of the app’s channel lineup, said it had "not granted iPad video streaming rights to any distributor" and said it is addressing "any misunderstandings." MTV owner Viacom and Discovery Communications reportedly also contended that the new offer violates their current TWC contracts.

"We don't define in our contracts what a viewing device is, because technology has always been evolving," Witmer said. "I don't know what a TV is anymore. It's kind of an anachronistic term."

TWC and other pay TV operators are looking to offer new tech solutions as Internet-connected TV sets, tablet computers and other new devices allow consumers to watch video content without pay TV subscriptions, leading to cord cutting fears.
"It is very important that we be there as a provider,” Witmer told the Journal.