5:39pm PT by Alex Ben Block
Time Warner Cable Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over CBS Blackout
The fee dispute between Time Warner Cable and CBS has prompted a class-action lawsuit by subscribers upset over paying for channels they don't receive.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by lead plaintiffs James Armstrong, Michael Pourtemour and Vatsana Bilavarn, the Southern California residents say they were enticed into subscribing to TWC service by the promise of CBS-owned channels CBS, Showtime, Movie Channel and Los Angeles station KCAL but have been unable to access them due to the two-week blackout.
CBS and TWC are locked in a nasty standoff over CBS' request to increase carriage fees for its channels. As a result, CBS has pulled its channels in several big markets, including the Los Angeles area.
The plaintiffs claim in the suit that if they had known there might be a program blackout, they would not have become TWC subscribers. Pourtemour says he would not have purchased TWC’s Internet services either if the cable TV service was not offered “to his satisfaction.”
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The suit alleges that Armstrong and Portemour complained to TWC that they were not able to watch Big Brother, the PGA Championship, Dexter and Ray Donovan because of the blackout. They cite ads taken out by TWC in Oct. 2012 promising them six free months of Showtime for signing up to TWC basic cable services.
“The courtesy replacement programming,” says the suit, “is not a reasonable substitute for programing blacked out, as it does not include a fungible offering of programs relative to CBS and Showtime.”
The plaintiffs want an unspecified reimbursement for subscription fees paid. The suit claims causes of action for breach of contract, unjust enrichment and violations of California's business and professions code. The class action also seeks to encourage other TWC customers to join the suit.
Time Warner Cable declined to comment on the suit.