Time Warner's not waiting around to get sued over iPad app

Cable giant seeks preemptive court judgment allowing channels to mobile devices

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Seeking to put an end to the legal questions regarding its iPad streaming application, Time Warner Cable on Thursday asked a judge to rule that it has a contractual right to deliver television channels to its subscribers' electronic devices.

Good move. That should get those whiny broadcast companies to back off for awhile.

Oh, wait, says Bloomberg:

Viacom, in a separate complaint also filed (Thursday) in federal court in New York, seeks damages and an order blocking Time Warner Cable from distributing its programming to iPads and other portable electronic devices.

At issue is whether Time Warner Cable is contractually permitted to stream television channels to their subscribers' iPads in their homes via the company's cable system. Time Warner unveiled a streaming app for the iPad on March 15, offering 32 channels, including several from Viacom such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. The app has been downloaded about 300,000 times.

Time Warner briefly buckled under the threat of legal action, temporarily pulling a dozen channels from the iPad app. Since then, the company obviously has decided to fight for its right to party on iPads and other electronic devices.

In its complaint filed in a federal court in Manhattan, Time Warner said, “Because Time Warner Cable bargained in the Viacom affiliation agreements to allow its subscribers the flexibility to receive and watch the programming for which they have paid on any video display device in the home, Time Warner now seeks a declaration from this court to make clear that it has the right."

Viacom doesn't see it that way. In an email to Bloomberg, Viacom spokeswoman Kelly McAndrew said:

“They blatantly grabbed the rights that their competitors have negotiated in good faith to obtain. Time Warner Cable removed our programming from this service only when they were threatened with a lawsuit and, now, it is asking the court to declare their brazen acts lawful.”

Ya hear that, TIme Warner? You're blatantly brazen!

If Viacom knew how to seize the moment, it would have television writers hard at work right now creating a legal drama around this case. I bet it'd make for great viewing. On an iPad.

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