iPad is newest media platform for dispute


Having recently rolled out broadband delivery options for subscribers, major cable MSOs are anxious to deliver programming to subscribers on iPads as well. But hold on a minute. The owners of the content are saying that’s not covered by the existing contracts.

Time Warner Cable was the first to market with an iPad app on the Apple app store. It was quickly contacted by Scripps Networks Interactive and News Corporation (Fox), who demanded that TWC stop delivery of their copyright content via the TWCableTV app. There was a strong hint of legal action if delivery of their programming continued. Other content owners, such as Viacom and Discovery, are rumored to have also raised objections, but more quietly.

“We believe we have every right to carry the programming on our iPad app. But, for the time being, we have decided to focus our iPad efforts on those enlightened programmers who understand the benefit and importance of allowing our subscribers – and their viewers – to watch their programming on any screen in their homes. In the meantime, we will pursue all of our legal rights against the programmers who don’t share our vision. The enthusiasm of our customers and the programming partners who have embraced the app, rather than those who are solely focused on finding additional ways to reach into wallets of their own viewers, has convinced us more than ever that we are on the right path. We will continue to fight to ensure that our customers have access to the content they pay for, no matter which screen in their home they choose to view it on,” TWC said in a statement issued Thursday. So, fewer channels are now available to TWC customers on iPads. The TWC app only allows subscribers to view programming on an iPad inside their own home.

Cablevision has already developed an iPad app and submitted it to Apple for approval. When it will become available in the app store is unknown. That is likely to spark an even bigger fight with content owners, since Cablevision’s app would provide even more than the 32 channels originally offered by TWC’s app – in fact, all channels available on the subscriber’s TV.

The cable companies claim their current contracts permit them to deliver channels on any screen in a customer’s home. The content owners obviously disagree with that interpretation.