Published: 11.10 Europe/London, April 8, 2011

US operator Time Warner Cable is seeking a court ruling to have its iPad App approved for use with Viacom Networks channels. In response, Viacom has said it is suing TWC for breach of contract and copyright violation.

The two cases could be the beginning of a legal war over iPad streaming. Time Warner Cable was the first to announce its iPad streaming App. Meanwhile, another US cabler, Cablevision, has also launched its own streaming app – which offers its customers up to 300 streaming channels across the home.

After TWC launched its app, News Corp.’s Fox Cable Networks was the first to react by sending a cease-and-desist notice to the operator demanding that it stop offering channels, including FX and NatGeo. This was later followed by a similar cease-and-desist letter from Viacom.

On Thursday, April 7, Time Warner Cable filed a request for declaratory judgment relating to Viacom cable networks. The request asks the court to rule that Time Warner Cable’s rights under its carriage agreement allows it to deliver the programming of this company over its cable systems for viewing on devices of its video customers’ choosing, including iPads, in their homes. The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Marc Lawrence-Apfelbaum, executive VP and general counsel of Time Warner Cable said in a statement, “We have steadfastly maintained that we have the rights to allow our customers to view this programming in their homes, over our cable systems, without artificial limits on the screens they can use to do so, and we are asking the court to confirm our view. With over 360,000 downloads of our TWCableTV app, it is clear that our customers welcome the convenience and flexibility our new app provides.”

Viacom said in a statement, “Viacom has always negotiated rights to distribute our content based on specific technologies and devices to ensure that the unique business issues, such as security, product quality and audience measurement, are properly addressed.”

Continued Viacom: “Instead of addressing these issues, Time Warner Cable simply launched the product without a licence to distribute our programming through an iPad app. They blatantly grabbed the rights that their competitors have negotiated in good faith to obtain.”

But Viacom seems willing to talk money: “With $5.2 billion in cash from operations last year, Time Warner Cable can certainly afford to provide our programming through this new broadband service without passing along any additional costs to its customers,” it says.

The app, which launched to TWC customers on March 15, 2011, currently features 43 channels, which are available to customers whose subscriptions include them.