Viacom has done it again: The cable programmer is blocking subscribers of Suddenlink from accessing its shows online as part of a contractual dispute with Suddenlink. The online blackout came in response to Suddenlink dropping Viacom’s channels from its cable lineup Wednesday after the two parties couldn’t agree on fees for a renewed carriage deal.
[company]Viacom[/company] is frequently using catch-up videos on its websites as a bargaining chip in these kinds of disputes with pay TV operators; in 2012, it took down large parts of its online video library to prevent DirecTV customers from getting a peek at shows unavailable to them on TV while DirecTV and Viacom were feuding over fees. And earlier this year, it Viacom blocked Cable One customers from accessing its shows online.
Cable operators have in the past argued that these kinds of blackouts violate net neutrality, and [company]Suddenlink[/company] made the same argument in a message to subscribers, according to Multichannel News. Websites blocking access to a subset of visitors may not meet the traditional definition of net neutrality, but there is some argument about fairness to be made — after all, the blackout also affects users that only rely on Suddenlink for their internet access, but get their TV service elsewhere.