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Cablevision unveils iPad app

As Time Warner Cable's own iPad app continues to face objections from Discovery and other program providers over Internet-distribution issues, Cablevision releases app it says sidesteps the Net, and thus the licensing question.

Cablevision Systems released an iPad app today that lets subscribers use the tablet at home--instead of just using their television--to view programs carried by the cable-TV distributor.

The news comes as fellow cable TV, Internet, and phone-service purveyor Time Warner Cable wrestles with programmers such as Discovery and Viacom over whether it can legally distribute their content on Apple's tablet via the Internet without paying to do so.

Unlike the Time Warner app, though, Cablevision says its offering sidesteps the Net and instead uses the company's proprietary Advanced Digital Cable network.

In a press release today, Cablevision said it "has the right to distribute programming over its cable system to iPads configured in this way under its existing distribution agreements with programming providers" and that "customers do not need to have Internet access to use the Optimum App for iPad."

Related links
• Time Warner launches TV-viewing app for iPad
• Time Warner Cable boosts iPad app channel lineup

Programmers are busily striking deals (or refusing to do so) with services like Netflix as the Internet-distribution market heats up--making Net distribution an increasingly lucrative source of licensing income.

But Cablevision goes to pains to paint the iPad as, in this case, just another TV in another room of the house.

The company's new app "allows the iPad to function as a television, delivering...our cable television service to a display device in the home," Tom Rutledge, Cablevision's chief operating officer, said in today's statement. "It gives our customers the additional flexibility and convenience of watching television throughout the home, in places where set-top boxes might not be ideal or even practical, like the kitchen, bathroom or work room. This is the future of Advanced Digital Cable televisions served with virtual set-top boxes, and just one of many digital displays we are going to be serving through a variety of applications."

The Cablevision app, which is free, also differs from the Time Warner offering in that it serves up about 300 live channels, in addition to other features. Time Warner introduced its app with a limited number of programs from a limited number of providers. The company has since been doing a bit of a dance, removing some programs because of licensing objections from providers, and adding others to fill the hole left by the removals.