Aereo Chief Keeps Up Heat on Broadcasters, Suggests Networks Are Bluffing

Apr 18, 2013  •  Post A Comment

Aereo Chief Executive Chet Kanojia expressed skepticism that broadcast networks would make good on their threats to move to cable to circumvent his service, the New York Post reports. Executives for Fox and Univision talked earlier this month about converting their networks into pay services.

"Are they bluffing?” Kanojia said at an Advertising Age media conference in New York. “I’m the engineer at the bottom of the food chain. There’s an obligation, a public interest,” to provide the signal.

"The real question is a consumer question: Can you rightfully disenfranchise 50 million consumers?” the executive said. “Is that what the preferred policy is?”

Asked whether Aereo would pay retransmission fees, he replied, "The spectrum was granted free to air; all this is, is a new type of antenna.”

The report adds: “Fox Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said recently that his company had ‘no choice but to develop business solutions that ensure we continue to remain in the driver’s seat of our own destiny. One option could be converting the Fox broadcast network to a pay channel.’”

Univision Chairman Haim Saban made similar comments earlier this month, accusing Aereo of pirating content.

The broadcast networks have been battling Aereo in court, where the networks have lost two decisions, the report notes. The nets have requested that a full federal appeals court hear the case.

3 Comments

  1. Aereo is merely providing a sophisticated antenna, receiver and DVR to people already authorized to view and enjoy the programs. How doe this infringe on a station’s copyright? Broadcasters have tasted the allure of retransmission payments and have forgotten that their primary mission is to provide free television programming to viewers with their designated market area. If broadcasters don’t like it, then switch off the transmitter and become another cable provider. They will lose their spectrum, their DMA, their protected status and become lost in a sea of other cable programmers. As more people are cutting the (cable) cord, broadcasters should be looking for ways to increase their OTA viewership, promoting their own signals, and embracing new technology such as Aereo.

  2. From the news reports, I’m not sure exactly what it is the Aereo provides. It sounds like they are a middle-man providing OTA broadcast reception to people who have issues with receiving OTA signals.
    I’m sure there’s a simple technological solution to any such issues that don’t entail paying an continuous fee for something that is otherwise free.. and for which Aereo pays nothing.

  3. Essentially, you are correct John. They are a “middleman.” The premise to this is that someone “rents” one of those antennas and then the equipment to send that RF to their PC or device. However, what I have never believed is that they can have 2000+ antennas in a skyscraper or building in Queens, surrounded by other skyscrapers or buildings (which block DTV signals, in the first place). I also find it hard to see 2000+ Tuners that stay on and online 24/7 without hiccups that could be noticed and complained about. Let’s not get into the room needed for such devices. This whole argument doesn’t wash with me. This may be “semi-true”, but not totally. It also is the same price as the bargain basic “local channel-only” cable TV. Problem I also have, as anyone in this industry will also tell you is the quality of the picture and sound. The sound may be low bitrate, while the picture was originally broadcast as MPEG2, converted to another form… such as MPEG4 or other codec, which reduces the quality. Also take into account the bandwidth they uphold.
    With that said, bandwidth amount, 2000+ antennas, 2000+ tuners/DVR’s… it just adds up to be too much to be comparable to watching DTV… at the cost of lowest-level cable.
    To me, the courts are being hog washed.

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