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Cablevision sues Viacom over bundling

Cablevision has sued Viacom in the US, claiming that the channel owner forces it to air less popular networks in order to carry the likes of Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central.

In an antitrust lawsuit filed in a federal court in Manhattan, Cablevision argued Viacom was illegally coercing it to pay for 14 “lesser-watched ancillary networks” like Palladia, MTV Hits and VH1 Classic in order to access its “must-have” channels.

In a move that could prove a challenge to the long-held practise of cable channel bundling, Cablevision argued that Viacom was harming Cablevision and its customers and impairing competition by making it take networks that “many subscribers do not want to watch.”

“The manner in which Viacom sells its programming is illegal, anti-consumer, and wrong,” Cablevision said in a statement.

However, Viacom defended such channel bundling practises, claiming that it reflected the competitive nature of the cable business and had been found legal by a number of federal courts. It also accused Cablevision of trying to “use the courts to renegotiate our existing two-month old agreement.”

In a statement the firm said: “At the request of distributors, Viacom and other programmers have long offered discounts to those who agree to provide additional network distribution.”