Viacom Files Lawsuit in Texas Against Time Warner Cable

The two media giants are going head-to-head in the lone star state over a breach of contract dispute relating to Viacom's Country Music Television channel, which Time Warner Cable threatened to drop.

There's no love lost between Viacom and Time Warner. The two media giants are in the midst of a high-profile battle over TWC's plan to let its customers view Viacom channels on their iPad devices while in the home. One dispute begets another.

After  the two companies came to legal blows over the iPad app, TWC threatened to drop Country Music Television -- a Viacom station -- from its cable package. So somewhat discreetly, Viacom has filed a lawsuit in Texas court against Time Warner for breaching a contract.

This time, Viacom argues it's not getting enough distribution. The trouble over CMTV started in early April when Viacom and TWC submitted dueling lawsuits over a planned iPad device. Viacom argued that such a technology amounted to "unlicensed distribution of Viacom's programming." A couple weeks ago, TWC submitted an answer and counterclaims in the consolidated case, justifying its iPad app as a device merely for home use so as to eliminate the need for its customers to lease set-top boxes, thus saving them more money and allowing more convenience.

The animosity seems to be damaging the relationship between the companies in other ways.

"Time Warner Cable has raised issues regarding whether or not our Country Music Television Service complies with the requirements of our affiliation agreement with them," a Viacom spokesperson tells us. "TWC raised the profile of these issues following our dispute over iPad rights."

So Viacom filed a lawsuit in Texas District Court, arguing that TWC was breaching its contractual obligations to distribute CMTV. In addition, Viacom asserts that TWC has tortiously interfered with CMTV's relationship with advertisers. At the moment, the details of the advertiser interference are somewhat unclear. Viacom has asked a Texas District Court to seal its petition, which calls for damages. Confidentiality is necessary, according to a
court filing by Viacom, to prevent disclosure of "highly sensitive business arrangements."

TWC couldn't be reached for comment.