LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Cable TV company Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) says that it is suing Viacom (NASDAQ: VIA) (NASDAQ: VIAB), arguing that the operator of pay-TV networks like Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central is "illegally forcing" it to carry 14 channels that aren't watched very much.

Bethpage, N.Y.-based Cablevision Systems Corp. said it filed the antitrust lawsuit in federal court in New York on Tuesday.

It calls the way that Viacom sells programming illegal and bad for consumers. It says that if it refused to take the lesser-watched channels, it would have to pay massive penalties.

Responding in a statement, Viacom says 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.

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