Time Warner Cable Subscribers Sue Over CBS, Showtime Blackout

Class-action lawsuit seeks recovery of fees paid to Time Warner Cable for programming blacked out since Aug. 2 in dispute with the Eye

Three Time Warner Cable customers in Southern California have filed a class-action lawsuit against the cable company over the blackout of CBS, Showtime, The Movie Channel and KCAL — now in its 13th day — demanding to get refunds for the loss of the channels.

Time Warner Cable’s “inter-contractual disputes with content providers is not something that should be passed on to consumers,” according to the lawsuit, filed Wednesday.

SEE ALSO: Time Warner Cable: Still No Credits for Loss of CBS Stations

The suit, seeking recovery of fees paid to Time Warner Cable for the blacked-out programming, was filed in the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles. Plaintiffs James Armstrong, Michael Pourtemour and Vatsana Bilavarn accuse Time Warner Cable of engaging in unlawful and unfair business practices.

Time Warner Cable declined to comment.

Previously, the cable company said it would issue credits to Showtime subscribers retroactive to Aug. 2, the first day of the blackout. However, Time Warner Cable said CBS stations are part of the basic programming package, and that it is not the company’s policy to credit customers for any individual channel change, “because the whole package continues to provide value.”

According to the lawsuit, “An unspecified future credit has been promised (by Time Warner Cable), but to date, no such credit has been posted to the accounts of Plaintiffs.”

The 2008 pact between CBS and Time Warner Cable expired June 30. After a series of deadline extensions, the companies were still unable to reach terms on a new contract — and on Aug. 2, more than 3 million Time Warner Cable customers in New York, L.A. and Dallas lost access to CBS-owned stations. In addition, Time Warner Cable removed Showtime, TMC, Flix and Smithsonian Channel from lineups nationwide.

The class-action suit filed Wednesday alleges that Time Warner Cable offered new subscribers six free months of Showtime as an incentive to sign up even though the operator was “aware of its dispute and/or the potential for a dispute with CBS/Showtime.” Two of the plaintiffs — Armstrong and Pourtemour — are Showtime subscribers, while the third, Bilavarn, “would not have subscribed to TWC if she had been advised that free channels would not be part of the subscription services.”

SEE ALSO: Time Warner Cable Taking Bigger Hit Than CBS in PR War Over Blackout: Survey

Time Warner Cable is offering Showtime subs replacement programming from Starz and Encore, but the lawsuit says that is “not a reasonable substitute for programming blacked out, as it does not include a fungible offering of programs relative to CBS and Showtime.” The complaint notes that the two plaintiffs who are Showtime subscribers have been unable to watch “Dexter” and “Ray Donovan” during the blackout, and cites the loss of CBS programming including “Big Brother,” NFL games and the PGA Championship.

Plaintiffs are repped by L.A.-based law firm Weintraub & Selth. Lawsuit seeks class-action standing on behalf of all “similarly situated subscribers of Time Warner Cable.”

Separately, in June four Southern California pay TV subscribers filed a class-action suit against Time Warner Cable over the MSO’s estimated $11 billion in programming rights deals with the Dodgers and the Lakers. That suit alleges that because of those pacts, subscribers in the region will be forced to pay $4 to $5 per month extra for regional sports networks as part of expanded basic cable packages, without any opportunity to opt out.

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  1. Andrew Mizell says:

    Yes We The People of the United States are as mad as Hell and we are not going to take it anymore Mr. Timewarner because you are just wrong by scrambling important HDTV ch 2 signal and by my own expireances over months and years also chs 4,5,7,9,11, and PBS 13 all day every day and on weekends and during all sports games such as my Jets and Giants games in HDTV that I also pay for to Verizon Wireless internet and telephone services. Who should also sue you as well Mr. Timewarner Cable Company. And just maybe some one should just add my name to the class action law suit as well for all of the interferrance and scrambled HDTV signals over the past days, months and years of useless needless trouble thzt I also paid for to my Verizon Wireless internet and telephone and Tivo DVR Box services.

  2. Andrew Mizell says:

    NYC Kings County Brooklyn Hi and just what about all of the tivo box users who use a wireless streaming from there Verizon Telephone provider I have been having this broblem off and every since I first got my first Tivo DVR Box some two to Three years ago now and up and right to this very day. That not only ch 2 is scrambled but also chs 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, and PBS ch 13 all are always scrambled all day every day and I even took pictures from time to time out of all my agravation that show exactley how all of my HDTV signal picsuls are so badly broaken up. So it is here in NYC Brooklyn is a whole lot worse and I also have filed a total of three to foure FCC Complaints over the past two to three year and all the FCC could say was that there nothing that they could do about the Broblems in my on line FCC Complaint forms. My name is Andrew Mizell, at 127 Dupont St, Brooklyn NY 11222. My E-Mail is amizell345@outlook.com

  3. I roberts says:

    Exactly what I was thinking..tired of losing channels for period of time…it happens or the threat of happening once every yr or so…ITS RIDICULOUS! . .Dish..or Direct TV here I come!

  4. t. lehfeld says:

    They could afford a football coach for their lame commercials, but can’t work out their problem with CBS. Time to go to a dish. An eight dollar credit for not getting CBS based channels, give me a freaking break.

  5. k. stock says:

    The channel given for CBS was Starz for kids, which now has been dropped by time warner and they are now showing Hallmark’s reruns of Perry Mason from 20 years ago because that one is free as of Aug 31st. They have do not care about their subscribers only the money They say our privacy is at stake by what CBS wants included and that the other providers contract is not up but when it is they will join in boycotting CBS. Humph, I wonder.
    If their dispute isn’t fixed soon I’ll take my business elsewhere.

  6. Sandy Magida says:

    TWC and CBS’s “purported” dispute is but a sham & a concerted effort by both to further their unreasonable control of the manner, method, & means of delivery of programming content, but also to control the “exclusivity” of content itself, in this digital/internet era, all at the expense of the TV/internet user/subscriber! Perhaps the RICO federal law should be looked at and applied to these cohorts.
    BRAVO for class-action ACTION.

  7. Joan Boyle says:

    How I join the class action suit too….I am in New York, in a building where TWC has a monopoly, and where we cannot have antennas or other alternatives. I have written TWC since I do not use the myriad other channels offered under my contract with them, only CBS and PBS, and they will not give me a credit at the minimum. Really, I would like the service I pay through the nose for!

    Please let me know how to sign on to sue TWC.

  8. Kaye Switzer says:

    How can I join the class action suit?

  9. Michele Martin says:

    I am a Time Warner subscriber with the bundle. I have called, first Time Warner and then CBS. CBS has blocked we people who have the computer with Time Warner. So we can not even go there to see the CBS programing. I would drop them but I have tried AT&T but the reception in our apartment is not good with AT&T. And we are not allowed to install a dish here. I would love to join the law suit. Time Warner says this is happening so costs won’t go higher. Every year my rate is raised and if CBS is so wrong with their demands then why haven’t all the other carriers done the same and drop CBS? Last week TW told me that it should be solved this week. Am not holding my breath. Michele Martin

  10. Donna Fields says:

    Whats wrong with these people? Don’t we pay enough to watch tv? Since the air ways are free!!!!

  11. daniel trout says:

    Very unhappy with twc blackouts how do I sign the class action suit

  12. Judy Landis says:

    I will be the next to follow suit. This is the most crazy thing that is happening.
    Do not take it out on all us subscribers. Settle your DAMN SUIT and stop being so friggen cheap.
    I was promised a discount, and not their lousy $10.00. Im North of Los Angeles by an hour and this is a true problem…I will see to it, I contact whoever and am sick and tired of Time Warner’s promises.

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