It was only last week that Aereo won its latest court battle in the TV-over-web war, but already News Corp is threatening drastic measures.
The company's Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said that the media conglomerate could cancel Fox's broadcast signal and make the network's content available only to cable subscribers if Aereo continues to make progress.
Aereo is the New York-based company that's been making money by streaming live, broadcast television over the web for a monthly subscription fees - and it's not paying networks a cent.
News Corp is understandably eager to protect its dual revenue stream (rebroadcast fees and advertising dollars) from what it sees as a very real threat.
'We need to be fairly compensated'
Carey told the president of the National Association of Broadcasters at the organization's annual Vegas conference that "the dual revenue system is essential," according to TechCrunch.
"We're committed to broadcast, but we need to be fairly compensated from people who redistribute our signal," he said.
News Corp is apparently willing to alter its entire business model to ensure that happens.
Network affiliates that currently pay the Corp a fee to rebroadcast Fox content won't be happy, but Aereo has it and other content providers backed into a corner.
Things will really get interesting if and when News Corp follows through on its threats to go cable-only, as others could follow in its footsteps, creating a serious problem for broadcast TV.
OK, the probability of that actually happening is pretty slim, but when May sweeps hit, the unfolding drama may be more interesting than what's actually being broadcast.
Aereo won't quit
Aereo takes television content that's broadcast for free and charges users a small fee to send it live to their computers, a service that is arguably legal.
A spokesperson for Aereo sent TechRadar the following statement in response to our query regarding News Corp's position:
"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. 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."
Following Aereo's victory last week over a coalition of networks and other interested parties that want to stop the company in its tracks, this battle is almost certainly headed for the Supreme Court.
"We will pursue our legal rights," Carey said, "and we want to be clear that if we can't defend our rights, we will take our network and make it a subscription service."
"We're not going to sit idly by and let someone steal our signal," he added.
In the meantime, Aereo has plans to continue expanding this year.
Update: As expected, another network has joined its voice to Fox's to threaten cutting its broadcast signal if Aereo continues operating without paying up.
CBS CEO Leslie Moonves told The New York Times on Tuesday that he "wholeheartedly supported what [News Corp. COO] Chase said" and that CBS has already held talks with cable companies about ceasing its local broadcasts and going cable subscription-only.
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