Cablevision has lost the latest round of its years-long legal battle with Time Warner Cable over its cable network American Movie Classics.
(The Hollywood Reporter) -- Cablevision has lost the latest round of its years-long legal battle with Time Warner Cable over its cable network American Movie Classics.
New York state Supreme Court Judge Bernard Fried ruled against Cablevision July 16, finding that AMC's shift from old to modern movies violated a provision of its carriage deal with Time Warner. Both sides have exchanged several lawsuits over the contract since late 2003, when Time Warner first threatened to yank AMC's carriage.
A Time Warner spokesman would not divulge the fate of AMC on Time Warner. Sources suggest the operator is not likely to drop AMC -- which is on a ratings upswing since contemporizing its lineup a few years ago -- but downgrading it to its digital basic lineup is seen as a possibility.
But a Cablevision spokesman said the company will appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court's appellate division.
"This dispute, one of many over the years between AMC and Time Warner, will not affect the quality of programming that subscribers have come to expect from AMC," Cablevision said in a statement. "Of course, we disagree with the judge's ruling and plan to appeal immediately. We are optimistic that this ruling will be overturned."
Fried's ruling turned on a four-sentence "content clause" first introduced in Time Warner's 1993 distribution agreement with Cablevision for AMC, which was later renewed without amendment in 2000. The clause empowered Time Warner to kill the deal if the "quality of the programming on the services materially changes," which Time Warner argued occurred once Cablevision drastically reduced the volume of pre-1960 films in AMC's library.
Cablevision countered it had "broad discretion" to alter AMC's programming strategy, an argument Fried rejected.
"It materially changed the quantity and quality of the programming it supplied to Time Warner," Fried wrote in his ruling. "Accordingly, in so doing, AMC materially breached the content clause."
AMC is available in about 87 million homes. Time Warner Cable services more than 11 million homes, with about 5 million digital cable subscribers.