Apple won't sell NBC programs on iTunes

Apple escalated a dispute with NBC Universal over the pricing of television shows by announcing that it would not sell any of NBC's programs for this fall season on iTunes, an Associated Press report said.

Earlier, NBC had told Apple that it would no longer allow its programs to be sold via iTunes at the end of the year. NBC Universal-controlled television programming accounts for an estimated 40% of the video downloads on iTunes, the Associated Press report said.

'We are disappointed to see NBC leave iTunes because we would not agree to their dramatic price increase,' the report quoted Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of iTunes as saying. 'We hope they will change their minds and offer their TV shows to the tens of millions of iTunes customers.'

Rather than cut off NBC programs in the middle of the season, Apple decided to stop before the new fall episodes premiere next month, he said.

That would be a blow to fourth-place NBC, which could use the buzz provided by Internet sales for its programming, not to mention the money, the Associated Press report said.

But NBC insisted that Apple is contractually obligated to offer new episodes of returning programming, shows like 'Heroes' and 'The Office,' through the end of December. Apple could only refuse to sell new series like 'The Bionic Woman.'

The dispute illustrates unrest among content providers over Apple's pricing policies. Media companies want more say in pricing and, in NBC Universal's case, flexibility, the report said.