Could Be a Landmark: MSO Cablevision Files Anti-Trust Suit Against Viacom. What the Lawsuit Does and Does Not Mean About the Bundling of Cable Channels The Atlantic Wire, Wired

"Don't be confused: Cablevision's anti-trust suit decrying the evils of "anti-consumer" bundling by Viacom, which have pushed cable-bills up oh-so-high, has nothing to do with the frustrations consumers have with cable bundling."

So writes staff writer Rebecca Greenfield at the Atlantic Wire, an offshoot of the Atlantic magazine.

Greenfield continues, "As it explains in a press release announcing the suit, [MSO, or cable operator] Cablevision wants to carry eight of Viacom's 'must-have' networks, like MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon, but not its 14 'ancillary' channels, like MTV Tr3s, CMT, and Teen Nick. It's a familiar complaint from people who would like the option to subscribe to cable channels a la carte rather than buy big bundles, and Cablevision even frames its suit in those terms: 'Viacom effectively forces Cablevision's customers to pay for and receive little-watched channels in order to get the channels they actually want.' But this suit, at least how Cablevision has described it, isn't about getting closer to a la carte. Cablevision, faced with rising programming costs, wants to sell a better bundle, not get out of the bundling business." 

The story adds, "While these annoyed cable providers make this sound like a crusade to protect consumers from ever-increasing cable prices, the move actually serves to defend their bottom lines. Programming costs from places like Viacom are resulting in losses for the pay-TV guys, as I explained earlier this month. These bundles -- in part because of these little unnecessary channels, but also because of big players like ESPN -- have started costing too much for the cable companies. Dish, for example, reported an earnings miss this quarter because of programming costs, it claimed; those same channel package costs have plagued Cablevision as well. Meanwhile to make up for these losses, the content owners are charging more and more for stuff."

The 14 Viacom channels Cablevision says its customers don't want, according to Wired, are: Centric, CMT,
MTV Hits, MTV Tr3s, Nick Jr.,
Teen Nick,
VH1 Classic,
VH1 Soul,
CMT Pure Country, Nick 2 and
MTV Jams.

We would urge that you click on the link at the very top of this item to read Greenfield's entire analysis.