US: Viacom can’t escape TV channel bundling suit

A federal judge denied efforts to have a lawsuit against Viacom’s television channel bundling practices tossed late last week, ruling that there was enough evidence for the case to proceed.

According to reports, US District Judge Laura Taylor Swain said allegations made by Cablevision included evidence sufficient to “support plausibly an inference of anticompetitive effects.”

Cablevision filed a lawsuit against the media group accusing it of unfair business practices forcing the cable company to pay for 14 unpopular TV channels if it also wanted eight “core channels,” which are the most popular. If Cablevision didn’t accept the bundled offer, the suit said, it would have been fined a $1 billion “penalty.”

Cablevision also argues that Viacom’s bundling practices take up too much bandwidth that could have been used for more popular channels, according to reports.

Viacom has defended itself, however, with the argument that bundling is a common, longstanding practice in the cable industry. In a statement Friday following Judge Swain’s ruling, Viacom defended its agreements with cable firms as “flexible, competitive and the result of food-faith negotiations with distributors.”

The lawsuit was filed in February 2013.

Full content: Reuters

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