Viacom's Dauman Slams Cablevision Anti-Trust Suit
Cablevision Systems' big anti-trust lawsuit against Viacom has drawn sharp criticism from Viacom chief executive Philippe Dauman.
Dauman, president/chief executive officer of Viacom, speaking at the Deutsch Bank Media and Telecom conference, called the lawsuit "ill-advised and frivolous. The lawyers will get rich on this and the potential millions of dollars Cablevision will spend on pursuing this lawsuit would be better spent to provide better customer service to their customers."
Cablevision -- the Long Island, NY.-based cable operator, which filed an anti-trust complaint last week -- says Viacom has been forcing it to take lessor-viewed, lower popularity cable networks such as TeenNick, Nick Jr. and others in order to make a deal for bigger networks, including MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central.
Under the new programming distribution agreement that Viacom and Cablevision agreed on two weeks ago, Cablevision agreed to carry no more additional networks than it carried under its previous long-term arrangement, Dauman added.
"We don't have a single additional network distributed being by Cablevision as result of this deal. ... Their theory is 'we got the discount, we got three suits for the price of two, and now we want just one suit for the same price.' It doesn't happen in our business. It doesn't happen in any industry."
Dauman says Cablevision got a good deal when considering the viewership that Viacom delivers versus price. For example, he says: Viacom networks contribute about 20% of all viewing on ad-supported cable on Cablevision. But he says the fees that Cablevision spends on programming are at "single digits."
Viacom's other concern has been Nickelodeon -- which a year-and-a-half ago, starting in fall 2011, experienced a massive 30% drop in viewership.
The kids-focused competition did become stronger, Dauman admits. Nickelodeon has revamped its entire programming development team, as well as placing more emphasis on animated programming. One of its newest and most successful entries has been an updated version of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Dauman says Nickelodeon is up 9% in year-over-year viewership in a recent period.