Why The Networks Are Really Afraid Of Aereo: Time Warner Cable Says It Might Offer Aereo-Like Service

from the getting-around-their-transmission-fees dept

The TV networks' fight against Aereo, including their recent hilarious threats to pull their networks off the air and put them on cable always seemed really exaggerated. Aereo is a tiny startup, with a questionable business model and not that many customers. It does some nice things, but how many people were really going to sign up? Of course, the truth is that the networks aren't that scared of Aereo itself, but if what they're doing is shown to be legal, others might follow. Others like... the big cable companies. Like Time Warner Cable.

Time Warner Cable's CEO, Glenn Britt, just admitted that they're watching the Aereo case closely, and might offer an Aereo-like service themselves, if Aereo continues to win its lawsuit.
“What Aereo is doing to bring broadcast signals to its customers is interesting,” Time Warner Cable chief executive Glenn Britt said in an interview with The Washington Post. “If it is found legal, we could conceivably use similar technology.”
There's a lot more behind the scenes here. Britt is posturing, in part, because every few months or so we see yet another flare up between the networks and various cable providers over how much the cable guys need to pay to retransmit the networks over their wires. If you have a TV service, you've probably lived through one of these fights, where you're told you might lose (and sometimes actually do) a popular channel for a while if the company doesn't come to its senses. Those fees have gone up and up and up and are a big part of why cable bills are so ridiculously high these days.

What Britt is now saying is that if Aereo is found to be legal, TWC would seriously consider offering their customers a similar service and then they could tell the networks to get lost the next time they demand a crazy amount to be included. This is why the networks are so freaked out about Aereo. They're not so concerned about that one company, but that the cable companies will finally realize they've been paying ridiculous sums of money to rebroadcast those channels, when they might be able to deliver the same content, legally, online for free.

Filed Under: cable, glenn britt, retransmission
Companies: aereo, time warner

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  1. icon
    Rikuo (profile), 3 May 2013 @ 11:28am


    Imagine if you will a guy standing in the middle of a street holding a megaphone. He says into the megaphone The Greatest Poem of All Time (c). He spent countless hours making it up, writing it (but it's not like everyone else should care about that) Anyone with ears can hear him. He is doing nothing (in fact, can do nothing) to stop people from hearing him whether they pay him or not.
    The listeners decide they like the poem, so they whip out their recording devices and record. One of them gets the nifty idea of attaching an antenna to the recording device and re-transmitting the poem over the internet, and even charging for it, for other people to hear, who just can't be in the vicinity physically.
    At which, you, the guy with the megaphone, get mad, and demand they stop, and give them a cut. After all, without you, there would be no service.
    To which I reply: But you didn't do anything to stop me from listening. You in fact might as well have given us an implied licence by shouting (broadcasting) it in the clear. You did nothing to help in the re-transmitting end. You did not provide any of the equipment. You didn't help with maintenance or the electricity or internet bills. If your work is so valuable that you must be paid if someone else makes use of it...DON'T SHOUT IT (BROADCAST) IN THE CLEAR FOR EVERYONE ELSE TO HEAR AND USE. In essence, you are demanding payment for doing nothing at all.

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