If Aereo is the future of television, Fox may see its future as a subscription-only channel. In the keynote speech at the NAB Show on Monday, News Corp president and COO Chase Carey warned that if Fox and other networks did not prevail in their lawsuit against Aereo, the network will make changes he believes is necessary to protect the network’s intellectual property, according to a Variety report.
“If we can’t have our rights properly protected through legal and governmental solutions, we will pursue business solution,” he reportedly said. “One solution would be to take the network and make it a subscription service. We’re not going to sit idly by and let people steal our content.”
Carey’s argument, like many of the networks suing Aereo, is that the company violates current distribution deals that networks have with providers.
“Aereo has invented a simple, convenient way for consumers to utilize an antenna to access free-to-air broadcast television, bringing television access into the modern era for millions of consumers,” Aereo spokesperson Virgina Lam said in an emailed statement to Fast Company. “It’s disappointing to hear that Fox believes that consumers should not be permitted to use an antenna to access free-to-air broadcast television.
“Over 50 million Americans today access television via an antenna. When broadcasters asked Congress for a free license to digitally broadcast on the public’s airwaves, they did so with the promise that they would broadcast in the public interest and convenience, and that they would remain free-to-air. Having a television antenna is every American’s right.”
If court rulings go as they have so far, it may be only a matter of time before Fox goes to subscription-only (if the company goes through with Carey’s threats). Earlier this month, an appeals court ruled in favor of the startup company–meaning its fight against some major networks may be heading straight for trial.
UPDATE: Other network executives immediately began piling on support for Carney’s statements today. In an emailed statement to Fast Company, Univision Chairman Haim Saban said: “Simply put, we believe that Aereo is pirating broadcasters’ content. As Chase Carey said, no broadcaster can afford to sit idly by and allow Aereo’s theft to continue unchecked. To serve our community, we need to protect our product and revenue streams and therefore we too are considering all of our options — including converting to pay TV. With Hispanics watching over-the-air news and entertainment at twice the rate of non-Hispanics, being forced to convert to cable would significantly impact this community.”