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Chase Carey Says Fox Could Impose Pay Wall Should Aereo TV Prevail

8 Apr, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Chase Carey

Aereo TV’s rollout of a nationwide network enabling subscribers to access digital broadcasts on portable devices via mini antennae could lead Fox TV to implement a pay wall to its content, News Corp. COO Chase Carey told the National Association of Broadcasters.

Speaking April 8 in the NAB confab’s morning keynote in Las Vegas, Carey said News Corp., which owns 27 television stations and has affiliate deals with countless others, said upstarts such as Aereo TV (and separately Dish Network’s ad-skipping DVR) threaten a business model where programmers receive fair compensation from parties that want to redistribute its product while continuing to make its product available for free to individual consumers — not third-party businesses — that want to access the signal.

“We believe that Aereo is pirating our broadcast signal,” Carey said. “We will continue to aggressively pursue our rights in the courts, as well as pursue all relevant political avenues, and we believe we will prevail.”

The heightened rhetoric follows New York-based Aereo’s recent appeals court victory, which ruled the subscription service could continue operating while copyright infringement lawsuits filed against it by broadcasters — including Fox — wend their way through the judicial system.

Carey said Fox would not “just sit idle” and allow its content to be “actively stolen.” He said technological innovations and changing consumer habits underscore the need for dual revenue streams from ad and subscription business models.

Carey said ad-supported models can no longer accommodate the costs associated with delivering sports, news and entertainment. Indeed, Fox just announced the rollout of a multibillion-dollar national sport network aimed at competing against Disney’s ESPN market powerhouse.

“We have no choice but to develop business solutions that ensure we continue to remain in the driver’s seat of our own destiny,” Carey said. “One option could be converting the Fox broadcast network to a pay channel, which we would do in collaboration with both our content partners and affiliates.”

Aereo spokesperson Virginia Lam, in a statement, said it is "disappointing to hear" Fox believes consumers should not be permitted to use  an antenna to access free-to-air broadcast television. Lam said 50 million people still access TV via 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," Lam said. "Having a television antenna is every American's right."

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