Cablevision Sues Viacom to End Bundling

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Cablevision vs ViacomCablevision has finally had enough of media conglomerates clogging up their bandwidth and rising carriage fees, and are now suing Viacom to un-bundle over a dozen channels it considers dead weight. Viacom, of course, owns many of the channels you’re probably familiar with on your cable or satellite programming guide — and a whole lot of other channels you’ve probably never stopped on when channel surfing — and it’s the latter group that has Cablevision seeing red. Whether you want those channels or not, Viacom insists that its niche and developing channels tag along with the big boys — the channels you might actually ever watch — in the same bundle. The Consumerist has the details of the new suit in which Cablevision hopes to put a stop to this practice:

In addition to voiding the existing carriage agreement, Cablevision seeks a “permanent injunction barring Viacom from conditioning carriage of any or all of its core networks on Cablevision’s licensing any or all of Viacom’s ancillary networks.”

The carrier considers the following 14 stations to be “ancillary” — Centric, CMT, MTV Hits, MTV Tr3s, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, Palladia, Teen Nick, VH1 Classic, VH1 Soul, Logo, CMT Pure Country, Nick 2, MTV Jams. Not all of these channels are currently available nationwide via Cablevision.

CMT is the only place to get the Dukes of Hazzard in HD, so I don’t know how anyone can consider it superfluous, and our own Dennis Burger is always going on about some new music documentary he’s seen on Palladia, but in all seriousness, is it really fair to force customers to pay for these channels if all they want to watch is Colbert?

Granted, Viacom does offer discounts for carriers that take the whole slate, but that probably doesn’t make up for the $2-3 a month those channels represent in fees, and that’s before you count the bandwidth they take up on the network, which is probably the biggest issue here.

In defense of bundling, though, it’s what allows channels to grow, prosper, and later betray their concept for general interest programming and reality shows (I’m looking at you A&E and SyFy). Comedy Central was on for half a decade before it got South Park (sorry MST3K), and then the Daily Show, which finally turned them into a television powerhouse. AMC, who recently had a similar spat with Dish Network, didn’t get big until just a few years ago when they decided to challenge HBO with original programming like The Walking Dead.

Now the real challenge is going to be, should Cablevision successfully unbundle the channels, whether they will pass the savings on to consumers, go after additional bundlers and create a service that’s consumer friendly, or whether they’ll simply pocket the difference and continue doing business as usual.

My money is, sadly, on the latter.

Via: [The Consumerist]

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