Will Cablevision's lawsuit lower your cable bill?

It's suing Viacom over bundling little-watched networks with big ones. But don't expect to stop paying for channels you don't use anytime soon.

By Aimee Picchi Feb 27, 2013 3:14PM

Image: Watching television (© image100/Corbis)Now that Cablevision (CVC) has sued Viacom (VIA) over bundling little-watched networks such as Palladia with top channels like MTV, consumers might be wondering when their cable bills will start going down. 


The answer: Probably not anytime soon. 


While the antitrust lawsuit may be groundbreaking in that a major cable operator is trying to break down the "cable bundle," Cablevision has a long road ahead before it can claim success.


For one, Cablevision will have to prove that bundling not only hurts consumers but that it prohibits competition by keeping smaller media companies from getting carriage, according to the New York Times


Some might also claim that Cablevision is calling the kettle black. That's because before the cable operator spun off the sports channel MSG, it also bundled it with smaller networks such as MSG Plus, the Times notes. 


Nevertheless, Cablevision is getting support from other pay-TV operators. 


DirecTV (DTV) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) have sided with Cablevision's lawsuit. DirecTV, with about 20 million customers, called bundling "shameful," while Time Warner Cable said the case "raises important issues," according to the Los Angeles Times.


Bundling has long been at the center of disputes between programmers and operators, usually through carriage negotiations. Despite support from consumers and public interest groups for "a la carte" cable-network choices, that's likely still a long way from becoming reality. 


In the meantime, cable bills keep rising, with operators like Cablevision blaming content companies for forcing high fees because of the inclusion of little-watched networks.


Viacom disagrees, saying it offers "pro-consumer arrangements" by offering discounts to distributors who carry additional networks. "[T]hese arrangements have been upheld by a number of federal courts and on appeal," Viacom said, adding that it will "vigorously defend" itself. 


More on moneyNOW

Feb 27, 2013 6:46PM
Cable bundling is the reason I left cable TV. Now if the cable companies would offer a la carte programming I might be interested....
Feb 27, 2013 5:27PM
Remember when cable tv meant no commercials?  Time to get back to that, thank you Dish network.  Why should we pay twice?
Feb 28, 2013 12:40AM

300+ channels -- and I watch at most 12 of them.  The rest are garbage.  Heck even the 12 I watch are questionable at best (but have some gems I like).  I would LOVE to save money and pay only for the ones I want to watch.  Those "Pro-Consumer" arrangments are nothing of the sort. 

Feb 27, 2013 6:07PM
Bundling is the least of the cablevision problem.  They shamefully  show the same movies over and over and over again.  They have current shows like the Big Bang Theory and NCIS showings every day of the week.  You can tell which stations own the smaller channels because they are carrying the same movies at the same time of the day on two different channels. Programming on the major networks is sinful. It stinks period. The one exception is CBS.     Their engineering of sending out a signal to your home TV has dropped Un believable all of a sudden. I could go on and write a book on  the lousy  mess coming from Cablevision.  But the billionaire family couldn't care less. They are greedy.  I pay 179.00 a month and am seriously considering to cancel my cable service andreplacing it with Netfix and other new technologies.
Feb 28, 2013 1:11AM

If Netflicks, etc. can get themselves together then we won't have to worry about Vicom anymore.

Vicom is not seeing the writing on the wall or on your basic computer either.

When I first went to Direct TV in 1996 it was great....with a big lack of commercials and lots of

good movies.

Then, everytime I looked up, there were more channels with commercials and more channels that

no one would ever watch.

Now, I am paying for commercial free TV but...damn!!  Almost everything has gone commercial.

Don't watch TV much anymore.

Now, when we can get commputer X-large screens we won't need TV!

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