Cablevision accuses Viacom of antitrust violations

Cable operator asks court to void distribution deal it signed in December
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Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) said it filed a lawsuit against Viacom (NYSE: VIA) Tuesday that alleges the media giant violated antitrust laws for its practice of forcing pay TV distributors to carry lesser known networks such as Palladia and VH1 Classic if they want to offer subscribers Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and other more popular networks.

In the lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in Manhattan, Cablevision complains that Viacom wants it to carry 14 "far less popular ancillary channels," including CMT, MTV Hits, Nick Jr., Logo, Nick 2 and MTV Jams.

"Viacom's abuse of its market power is not only illegal, but also prevents Cablevision from delivering the programming that its customers want and that competes with Viacom's less popular channels," Cablevision said in a prepared statement.

Cablevision said it is asking the court to void a carriage deal it signed with Viacom in December, and for a permanent injunction that would bar Viacom from tying distribution of ancillary networks with its core networks.

A Viacom spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

For more:
- see the release

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