Cablevision Sues Viacom Over Channel Bundles

The traditional cable methodology of charging you for dozens of channels you’ll never watch to get at the five you do is coming under increasing threat. Among the people trying to kill this and bring about a la carte cable is… uh… Cablevision? Wait, what?

Cablevision officially filed suit yesterday, stating that Viacom is forcing them to accept cable channel bundles, and they’re not going to take it anymore:

“The manner in which Viacom sells its programming is illegal, anti-consumer, and wrong,” Cablevision charged in a statement. Viacom, the company claimed, “effectively forces Cablevision’s customers to pay for and receive little-watched channels in order to get the channels they actually want.”

Cablevision went on to say that “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 compete with Viacom’s less popular channels.”

While cable networks have been grousing about how Viacom does business for years, nobody’s ever gone to court over it in any meaningful way. And yet major cable providers have backed the case as being important. So why now?

The answer, presumably, is money. Intel has made no secret of its big TV plans and Apple isn’t exactly keeping mum on their intended plans either. Google has practically announced it’ll build its own network city by city and Amazon is selling individual episodes of TV shows at a surprisingly torrid rate.

It was one thing to pretend try and pretend that Netflix was just a fad, and that hey, if Amazon got all feisty too, they’d just cap data. It’s something else again when major tech companies, one of which has something of a record of kneecapping industries with decaying business models, show up and pretty much make it clear they’ll work with you or just eat you if it’s convenient.

So, essentially, when it was in their interest to play along, cable companies didn’t care. It is, officially, no longer in their interest to play along. And 2013 in television gets just that much more interesting…