Time Warner Cable faces two class action suits over blackouts

Journal Broadcast Group has appealed for subscriber refunds in Wisconsin

For some, being blacked out from watching “Two and a Half Men” is a blessing in disguise. But for others, the offense is so egregious that it has driven TV viewers to the point of litigation.

Time Warner Cable Inc., which has engaged in retransmission consent disputes with both CBS Corp. and Journal Broadcast Group, now faces two class action lawsuits for breach of contract in Los Angeles and Milwaukee. Time Warner subscribers in New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas have been without CBS programming since Aug. 2. Journal stations in six markets, including Milwaukee and Green Bay, have been blacked out since July 25.

On Wednesday, three Time Warner subscribers filed a class action suit in Los Angeles Superior Court. The plaintiffs said they would not have signed up for Time Warner service “if they had known CBS and Showtime were not available as part of the subscription services, or if they had been advised there was a possibility there would be a blackout of this programming.” They also claimed that the replacement broadcasts were “not a reasonable substitute” for CBS programming.

Journal Broadcast Group came after Time Warner as well on Wednesday, asking the Wisconsin attorney general to force the cable company to provide subscribers refunds for missed programming.  Journal attorneys claim Time Warner “unilaterally removed” Journal channels even though the company “gave permission to continue carriage while the parties worked to negotiate a resolution.” This comes after Time Warner subscribers in Wisconsin filed a class action suit against the cable provider on Aug. 8, seeking a one-day credit for each day of service interruption.

At this time, Time Warner has had no comment on the pending class action suits. But on the Journal letter to the Wisconsin attorney general, Time Warner said: “We look forward to discussing with the Attorney General why the law cited by Journal Broadcasting Group does not apply in this situation, and why Journal persists in misleading its viewers in this way.”

 

For more on the Time Warner disputes, check out AdWeek.

And for more entertainment law, check out these InsideCounsel stories:

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