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Does Dish want to buy Aereo? Broadcasters would love to know

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Here’s the latest chapter in the broadcaster’s fight against Aereo, the New York-based startup that is streaming over-the-air television over the internet: Fox (s NWS), Univision, PBS and others are trying to figure out what exactly the company has been discussing in its talks with Dish Networks (s DISH), which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal last week. The broadcasters subpoenaed Aereo as part of the discovery process for their lawsuit against the company, according to a Hollywood Reporter story from yesterday.

The motion seeks to uncover “any ‘actual, contemplated, considered, or proposed’ business arrangements” between Aereo and Dish as well as “offers or expressions of interest by Dish in acquiring Aereo’s assets,” according to passages quoted by the Reporter. Of course, Dish doesn’t want any of those discussions to be public, which is why the company is now trying to quash the subpoena.

Dish’s Charlie Ergen has been very vocal in his support for new TV business and distribution models, going as far as saying that “a lot of customers can live with Netflix and an… antenna, and YouTube.” Dish could possibly use Aereo to build a cheaper TV bundle by bypassing retransmission payments to local broadcasters — or maybe just lower these payments by threatening such a course.

Make sure to check out our paidContent Live conference in New York this month if you want to learn more about Aereo’s potential to shake up the TV industry – I’ll be interviewing Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia on stage, and will make sure to quizz him about Dish as well.

8 Responses to “Does Dish want to buy Aereo? Broadcasters would love to know”

  1. brianxanderson

    A little off-topic, but I had to comment on a recent Gigaom podcast that covered Aereo. Both Janko and Chris used the term “uncompressed” in connection with broadcast television. There is no such thing. All DTV broadcasts (the modulation is referred to as “Advanced Television Systems Committee” or ATSC) are, in fact, compressed. The compression used is typically somewhat less than HD Cable and therefore the perceived quality is usually better, but it is a matter of degree, not of compressed vs. uncompressed.

  2. This startup is a great example of how the tech world has responded to the greed of the content industrial complex.

    The problem is that copyright law has become more and more weighted in favor of copyright owners, who more and more are big, multinational corporations, and less in favor of the public. The constitution authorizes Congress to enact copyright laws in order to advance the useful arts and sciences, not to make creators rich at the expense of the public. Jefferson even opposed the 14 years copyright the first Congress enacted. He’d be appalled at today’s copyright laws. Now copyright covers subject matter which the framers couldn’t have imagined and for time periods that most often long exceed the lifetime of their offers. Were copyright laws more balanced, there would be less efforts by technology companies to find ways around their unreasonable and costly barriers.

    • That should have be “authors”, not “offers”.

      I know there are pirates who don’t want to pay for anything, but that’s not what most of the public expects. I still pay for content, but at a much more reasonable rate: $8/mo for Netflix; $79/year for Amazon Prime, $130/year for MLB.TV; $10 month for Spotify. But I get what I want at a price that is affordable. I no longer pay 2.5 times that amount to get a few channels I watch. Were the content owners and the distributors less greedy, there would be less demand for some of the new technologies.

      In addition, Aereo enables watching live TV on mobile devices. I’m still at a loss why the broadcast networks and their affiliates haven’t been offering this already. Syncbak enables them to do so while respecting their geographic territories. Syncbak’s been available since before Aereo begin operations, but few OTA networks and affiliates have adopted it. Aereo is simply meeting a need which the broadcasters could, but refuse to, meet. If nothing else, maybe Aereo’s court victories will motivate the broadcasters to implement Syncbak so that consumers can get the content they want on the devices they want it on.

      • mtpdmblo

        You don’t like the price, send them a message by not buying it. I agree that cable TV is overpriced, but then I just don’t watch it and wait for it to make it to Netflix.

        The artists deserves the right to pick and choose how the work will be distributed.

        And your characterization of the content industrial complex is not reflected by reality. It’s an intensely competitive world with fewer barriers to entry than ever before. If you think that the cable companies are doing a bad job, just start distributing your own content via DVDs or the Internet. Or set up your own network.

        The reason the cable TV companies are so dominant is because they invest billions in buying up the best artists and sports networks. They know what people like and they spend heavily to create it.

        • Aereo isn’t infringing on anyone’s copyrights, so your argument is either ignorant or intentionally misleading. Over-the-air broadcasters sell advertisements to pay for their programming, whereas cable channels sell advertisements AND receive transmission fees from the cable companies.

          Aereo is simply providing viewers who would prefer to watch over-the-air content but who are out of reach of the broadcast towers the ability to do that. Just because the networks aren’t able to milk the viewers by charging them in the form of advertisements AND transmission doesn’t mean anyone’s content is being stolen.

  3. mtpdmblo

    This startup is a great example of how the tech world is full of socially retarded, aspergery idiots. The reason that copyright exists is not to have some arbitrarily complex set of rules about which copies are legit and which are fair use and which are infringement. It’s not a game, despite the way that these tech startup jerks seem to feel it’s an invitation to play.

    No. Copyright exists so the artists stand a chance of making back some money they invest in a work. The correct way for the tech community to deal with these video creators is to decide whether the content is worth the price. If it is, pay it. If it isn’t, look elsewhere. That’s how O’Reilly expects readers to treat their books. Why not extend the same courtesy to the video creators?

    To sit around and revel in this techno-hair splitting is silly. If the video is worth the price, pay the piper. If not, don’t watch.

      • mtpdmblo

        So your argument is that television sucks and so it should be okay to infringe the copyrights? I hear this kind of weird rationalization all of the time from copyright deniers. It’s a corollary to the sour grapes argument from the wolf.

        Many of the copyright deniers are snobs but that’s the wrong attitude. Shakespeare, after all, played to the groundlings and he couldn’t have floated his plays without a house full of people who today would be watching “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”. He needed them to come through the paywall at the Globe to pay the actors and make the books balance.

        Don’t be a snob.