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Cablevision sues Viacom over unwanted channels

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February 26, 2013 03:13 PM EST | AP

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LOS ANGELES — Cable TV company Cablevision sued Viacom, arguing that the operator of pay-TV networks like Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central is "illegally forcing" it to carry and pay for 14 channels that aren't watched very much.

Bethpage, N.Y.-based Cablevision Systems Corp. said it filed the antitrust lawsuit in federal court Tuesday in New York on under seal, meaning it's not publicly available.

Cablevision called the way that Viacom sells programming illegal and bad for consumers. It said that if it refused to take the lesser-watched channels, it would have to pay massive penalties. Among the channels Cablevision doesn't want are Nick Jr., Nicktoons, VH1 Classic and CMT.

Cablevision said it's asking the court to void its December 2012 deal with New York-based Viacom.

Responding in a statement, Viacom Inc. said it provides a discount to TV distributors who take more channels.

Network operators and TV distributors have been fighting over the rising cost of programming, which cuts into distributors' profits and causes higher monthly TV bills.