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US: Will courts end channel bundling?

 |  April 23, 2013

The ongoing lawsuit by Cablevision Systems Corp against Viacom Inc. will reopen the issue of bundling content in pay TV.

Cablevision has alleged that Viacom is using its more popular channels—Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon—to force sales of lower-rated channels. The case is similar to the case that lead to the June 2011 Brantley v. NBC Universal Inc. decision by the US Circuit Court of Appeals.

In that decision, the court noted that consumers had not stated an antitrust claim because they had not alleged harm to competition among programmers. The current complaint seeks to remedy this weakness by making the impact on programmers a central focus, even if its aim, according to Cablevision Chairman, is to allow “cable channels [to] be sold like items in a supermarket.”

On Viacom’s side is a long tradition of courts respecting the way businesses sell their goods and services, with bundling being a widespread practice that can in fact be consumer friendly.

You can read more on experts’ opinions about the Brantley decision in our most recent Fall Journal.

Full Content: Thomson Reuters

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