WASHINGTON — Time Warner Cable Inc. will drop a dozen cable channels from its iPad app after three big programmers complained that the company does not have the rights to distribute their content on the popular tablet computer.
Time Warner Cable’s decision comes after News Corp.’s Fox Cable Networks, Viacom Inc. and Discovery Communications Inc., asked the cable company to pull their programming from its iPad app — arguing that the app was violating their programming contracts.
The media companies want to extract more money from cable companies to distribute their programming on devices other than just television sets. But Time Warner maintains it already has the rights to do that under its existing contracts.
Time Warner launched its app for Apple Inc.’s iPad, which streams live television, earlier this month.
The channels being dropped are: Animal Planet, Black Entertainment Television, Country Music Television, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, FX, MTV, National Geographic, Nickelodeon, Spike, TLC and VH1. That leaves the app with just 20 channels, although Time Warner said it will add more overnight.
“For the time being, we have decided to focus our iPad efforts on those enlightened programmers who understand the benefit and importance of allowing our subscribers — and their viewers — to watch their programming on any screen in their homes,” Time Warner Cable said in a statement.
The company added that it will “continue to fight to ensure that our customers have access to the content they pay for, no matter which screen in their home they choose to view it on.” Alexander Dudley, a company spokesman, would not elaborate.
Time Warner Cable’s iPad app is free to download, but it only works for the company’s existing customers who subscribe to both video and Internet service. And even then, it only works in the home, when the iPad is connected to the company’s cable modem via a Wi-Fi router.
Fox, Viacom and Discovery had no comment.