Viacom, Time Warner Cable Settle iPad Dispute

Viacom Time Warner Cable Logo Split - H 2012

Viacom Time Warner Cable Logo Split - H 2012

Viacom and Time Warner Cable have announced a deal that will allow TWC's customers to see Viacom programming on the iPad and other supported devices.

In making the agreement, the two companies are putting an end to litigation that erupted last year when TWC introduced an app that lets its subscribers view Viacom stations including Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and CMT on the iPad while at home.

TWC's iPad app was launched on March 16, 2011, and quickly drew objections from various broadcasters, including Fox and Discovery.

The cable company pulled the channels but went to a New York federal court April 7 to get a declaratory judgment that copyright law permitted a limited, more convenient way for its subscribers to enjoy television in the home.

Viacom filed its own lawsuit that same day, accusing TWC of breaching the programming agreement between the companies and committing copyright infringement.

Fox, Discovery and others allowed TWC to put its channels back onto the iPad app, but Viacom resisted. In interviews, CEO Philippe Dauman expressed concern about audience cannibalization before the TV industry was ready to measure ratings on mobile devices.

The parties first tried to resolve differences last summer, entering into a standstill agreement to pause litigation, but after Viacom made a deal with Cablevision in August to resolve a similar dispute, TWC insisted that "Viacom's grant of such rights to Cablevision without offering identical rights to TWC constitutes a breach of certain of the Viacom affiliation agreements."

The animosity between the two companies expanded to other fronts. For instance, in Texas, Viacom sued TWC for threatening to drop and not giving enough distribution to its Country Music Television channel.

Since November, the war between the two companies has been relatively quiet as Viacom and TWC repeatedly requested extensions from the court in the iPad dispute.

Evidently, the two sides picked up negotiating again. and on Wednesday, they came out with a joint statement announcing a settlement. Here it is:

"Viacom and Time Warner Cable have agreed to resolve their pending litigations. All of Viacom’s programming will now be available to Time Warner Cable subscribers for in-home viewing via internet protocol-enabled devices such as iPads, and Time Warner Cable will continue to carry Viacom’s Country Music Television (CMT) programming. In reaching the settlement agreement, Time Warner Cable and Viacom were also able to resolve other unrelated business matters to their mutual satisfaction. Neither side is conceding its original legal position or will have further comment."


Twitter: @eriqgardner