Viacom accuses Cablevision of being two-faced in discovery phase of bundling litigation

Viacom has fired a salvo in long-running anti-trust litigation with Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), noting that the cable company's argument in the matter has been undermined by contradictory testimony in another unrelated legal case.

Last month, lawyers for Cablevision and Game Show Network (GSN) concluded oral arguments in front of an administrative law judge. GSN is arguing that the MSO improperly moved its female-skewing network to an add-on sports tier in 2011.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Viacom have been defending the programming conglomerate since 2013 against a Cablevision complaint that its channel-bundling practices violate anti-trust law. Viacom recently sent a letter to the federal judge now overseeing that case, accusing Viacom's testimony in the GSN matter of undermining its anti-trust argument.

"When GSN asserted against Cablevision the same argument that Cablevision now asserts against Viacom, Cablevision noted that it and other cable operators are facing 'significantly increased competition' from, among other things, other cable companies, satellite TV companies, Verizon FIOS and 'a variety of new internet services that deliver television shows and movies to viewers without the need for a cable or satellite subscription,'" the letter from Viacom attorneys said. 

"Cablevision went on to argue that any subscribers who were interested in viewing GSN could simply sign up for the lower tier or switch to any of the many competitors that carried GSN more broadly," the letter added.

Cablevision responded to FierceCable's inquiry with the following statement: "Viacom's tying of its popular networks to carriage of its lesser-watched ancillary networks is illegal, anti-consumer, and wrong. The idea that this case and the unrelated GSN case have anything to do with each other is a preposterous concoction and wishful thinking by Viacom's lawyers."

Viacom believes that the MSO's assessment of competition in the video industry is relevant to the anti-trust case. And it want depositions and other confidential documents originating from the GSN case to be entered into the anti-trust litigation. 

"Here, among other defenses, Viacom will argue (much as Cablevision has in the GSN matter) that the increase in intense competition for video programming, particularly given the availability of videoprogramming in non-traditional formats like online streaming and mobile applications, defeats any claim of foreclosure," the Viacom letter said.

For more:
- read this Viacom letter
- read this Hollywood Reporter story

Related articles:
Cablevision accuses Viacom of antitrust violations
Viacom-Cablevision antitrust battle escalates with fraud allegations
Cablevision v. GSN beef finally to be decided; MSO says network's claims are 'preposterous'