Barry Diller, Arguing for Online Content Distribution, Calls for Rewrite of Communications Act

Apr 25, 2012  •  Post A Comment

Longtime media executive Barry Diller, testifying Tuesday before the Senate Commerce Committee, called for a rewrite of the Communications Act of 1996, Bloomberg reports.

Diller, who created both the Fox Broadcasting Company and USA Broadcasting, is now involved in online distribution of television programming as the chairman and senior executive of IAC/InterActiveCorp. He urged lawmakers to rewrite the laws governing communications to reflect a new media landscape in which the lines have been blurred among broadcast, cable and Internet distribution, the story says.

The story reports: “Diller has invested in closely held Aereo Inc., a service based in Long Island City, New York, that lets users access broadcast TV on mobile devices for $12 a month. The service is delivered via quarter-inch antennas placed in data centers. The technology uses existing broadcasting signals, letting consumers bypass cable or satellite providers.”

Diller has been pushing the Aereo distribution model, knowing it would spark a legal fight with traditional media outlets, as previously reported. And it has, with New York TV stations among the first to challenge the arrangement — sparking a counterclaim by Diller, as we reported last month.

Bloomberg reports: “Walt Disney Co.’s ABC and other networks said in two complaints filed March 1 in federal court in Manhattan that Aereo has no right to any of the programs that it offers through its subscription-only Internet service. Aereo has said its service is lawful and called the lawsuits ‘meritless.’”

Along with Diller, executives from Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com were among those invited to testify before the Senate panel to discuss how technology — particularly the Internet — is changing television viewing.

Calling online video a “disruptive technology,” panel Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said the rapid evolution of the communications business “will require legislation,” but added that no update of telecommunications legislation will pass this year, the Bloomberg story reports.

“It’s not a simple business,” said Rockefeller, noting that multiple devices and networks are involved. “It raises a lot of questions which we’re not able to legislatively answer at this point.”

“We’re paying for so many channels, though we usually only watch a few,” Rockefeller added. “So I want to know if the emergence of online video will do more than improve content and expand choice. I want to know if it’s going to bring a halt to, or at least a slowdown, to escalating bills” for cable and satellite, the story reports.


  1. Rockefeller should fully understand the concept of paying for more than you use. It’s the basis of government taxes. You pay a lot of taxes, but only some people reap the benefits. Government is the ultimate one-size-fits-all cable package. Taxes will never be “a la acarte” so why should cable television be “a la carte”? Witness the stunning statistic that only 48 percent of Americans even pay an income tax!

  2. Oh please, so many things wrong with your post, Doug, starting with the not-so-amazing statistic that a large number of poor Americans don’t owe any income tax after dutifully paying sales taxes, payroll taxes, FICA, property taxes, utility taxes, state and local taxes and every other license, fee and tax out there. Yes, it’s there fault for not making more money. Shame on them.
    As for a la carte, there’s a difference between not wanting to pay for ESPN and not wanting to pay for, say, the war in Iraq or air traffic controllers. One’s a real issue. The other is a smokescreen.

  3. First, I think the government should really explore the ala-carte model. With cable bills so high against what the average family actually watches, this is something that could save the average “joe” hundreds of dollars a year during these tight economic times.
    Second, the assault on the quality of what’s offered is offensive. I don’t want on my cable “package” the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, Swamp People, Toddlers and Tiaras, and five versions of “implanted & imploding” Housewives. Sadly, this is polluting our next-generation more than any other entity.
    The cable channels have gotten so bad that they’ve cleaverly ‘rebranded’ their titles from “The Learning Channel” and “Arts & Entertainment” to TLC and A&E. The “learning” has been eliminated in favor of child-exploitation and “arts” has been eviscerated to accommodate shows like “dog bounty hunter.”

  4. Well said Mickie.

  5. Free online tv provides users with an easy way to watch free online tv channels. There is no need for tv card or cabel connection, Internet coonection is required only….

  6. Rashi is right – you can cancel your cable today and find everything online. And you choose what you want to pay for and how to pay for it or you can just watch free shows.

  7. Rashi is right – you can cancel your cable today and find everything online. And you choose what you want to pay for and how to pay for it or you can just watch free shows.

  8. I was one of the first “cable cutters” years ago for a feature I was writing on the subject and stayed that way until recently. God, I wish I’d stayed that way. After lying about how much it would cost, AT&T screwed up the installation, our service has been lousy and at the same time, our over the air digital selection has improved. Hell, the technical problems with U-Verse have been so bad that if I want to see a program that doesn’t freeze up and lose 5 minutes in the middle or lock up and miss the last couple of minutes in a Final Four game, I’d have to find somewhere to stream or download it. And for this wonder or entertainment tech, I’m paying over $140/month. And the ‘original” programing is laughably awful. While you’ve got Hulu Plus working to stop the cable cutters, I and numerous other people are working on TV apps for mobile devices, DVD players, etc. that will bring the internet-only audience MORE programming, not less. It’s where the eyeballs and the money is heading. Anybody who doesn’t realize that WILL get left behind.

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