Time Warner Cable Slapped With Class Action Suit Over CBS Blackout

Three Southern California residents demand restitution over retransmission standoff

The stakes in the standoff between CBS and Time Warner Cable have just been upped once again — and this time it's angry viewers who are doing the upping.

Time Warner Cable was hit with a class-action lawsuit by Southern California customers who want to be reimbursed for losing CBS and its sister cable channel Showtime during the two companies' protracted retransmission dispute.

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The suit, filed by James Armstrong, Michael Pourtemour and Vatsana Bilavarn in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, claims that subscribers signed up for TWC in part because of access to CBS, Showtime, Movie Channel and Los Angeles station KCAL — all of which they've been denied since CBS went black on Time Warner Cable in Los Angeles on Aug. 2.

"Plaintiffs Armstrong and Portemour would not have subscribed to TWC if they had known CBS and Showtime were not available as part of the prescription services, or if they had been advised there was a possibility there would be a blackout of this programming," the suit reads. "Plaintiff Bilavarn would not have subscribed to TWC if she had been advised that free channels would not be part of the subscription services."

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Some 3.2 million customers in Los Angeles, New York and Texas lost access to CBS-owned stations after negotiations over retransmission fees broke down following multiple extensions. CBS contends that it deserves a bigger piece of the pie, since it gets reimbursed less than other outlets that bring in fewer viewers. TWC has countered that its retransmission fees are based on a variety of factors.

The suit alleges violations of the California Business and Professions Code, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. It seeks restitution and interest.

Time Warner Cable had no comment for TheWrap on the lawsuit.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.