At the root of the problem with cable television is bundling. That is the process by which big media conglomerates tie the carriage of all of their cable networks together when they forge agreements with your local cable or satellite company. The end result of this for parents, families and consumers generally is that in order to get access to what you do want to see on cable, you’re forced to pay for dozens and dozens of other channels in order to get access to it.
Why should a family have to be for MTV in order to get access to Nickelodeon?
On Friday, some cracks on the tier started to emerge:
But in an opinion on Friday, U.S. district judge Laura Taylor Swain says that Cablevision has “pleaded facts sufficient to support plausibly an inference of anticompetitive effects. For example, Cablevision alleges that if it were not forced to carry the Suite Networks, it ‘would carry other networks on the numerous channel slots that Viacom’s Suite Networks currently occupy.’ Cablevision also alleges that Cablevision would buy other ‘general programming networks’ from Viacom’s competitors absent the tying arrangement. Viacom’s motion is therefore denied to the extent it seeks dismissal of Cablevision’s per se tying claim for failure to allege anticompetitive effects.”
In other words, despite the best efforts of Viacom, one of the biggest proponents of cable bundling, the company will have to answer in court for the hows and whys of their fundamentally anti-family and anti-consumer tying arrangements. A victory for Cablevision in this case could alter the cable landscape for many years to come.
This is one of the best opportunities that we’ve seen to created real cable choice in some time, and we will certainly keep you up-to-date on new developments.