The four companies claim that CNN, in a story on their web sites, falsely suggested that they had violated their contracts by failing to deliver a series of new and expensive cable services.
The companies filed suit against CNN on Friday in New York federal court, saying that CNN’s false reporting was “particularly serious because CNN has a well-established reputation for publishing inaccurate, defamatory, and false information about its competitors and its own products.”
CNN, which has also faced criticism from lawmakers over its portrayal of climate change, has said that it does not comment on legal matters.
The lawsuit claims that CNN “made false and defamatic claims” and “sought to smear the company and its brands, and falsely portray the defendants as engaged in anti-competitive conduct.”
CNN said that the lawsuit is “an attempt to intimidate and silence CNN from reporting on a range of important matters in the media.”
“The lawsuit is an attack on our journalistic independence, on our ability to reach consumers, and on the very journalism we rely on to provide our viewers with news and information,” CNN chief executive Jeff Zucker said in a statement.
“CNN will vigorously defend ourselves against the allegations in the complaint.”
CNN declined to comment on the lawsuit.
“As we have made clear repeatedly, we do not comment in detail on pending litigation,” the network said in an emailed statement.
CNN has faced criticism over the past year over its reporting on the climate change debate, including its reporting that the United States is on track to be one of the most carbon-intensive nations in the world by the end of the century.
The network has also been under fire from a growing number of journalists and organizations who have criticized the way it has covered the climate debate.
CNN’s recent coverage has been criticized by the American Society of News Editors and several climate change activists, including former Vice President Al Gore and former Vice Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.