Media company Viacom Inc., owner of TV channels such as MTV and Comedy Central, and cable operator Time Warner Cable Inc. announced a “standstill agreement” on June 17 that pauses their legal battle over Time Warner’s right to distribute Viacom’s TV channels live on the iPad.
The litigation between the two companies—who filed lawsuits against each other in April after Time Warner introduced an iPad app for Viacom subscribers that featured Viacom’s TV shows—underscores the larger disagreements among media companies and cable operators about distribution rights on mobile devices.
Viacom and other media organizations are concerned that providing live cable programs on mobile devices without additional payments will make ratings plummet because ad rate calculations do not include iPad viewers. Time Warner and other cable providers say they have all necessary rights to distribute the cable networks and that the app correctly responds to consumer demand.
During the litigation pause, Viacom and Time Warner are reportedly discussing the possibility of returning Viacom channels to Time Warner’s app. According to the Wall Street Journal, other media companies, such as Discovery Communications Inc., that originally opposed distribution rights, have allowed their channels to return to Time Warner’s app.