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News Corp prez threatens to pull Fox TV off the air

Miffed at court's refusal to block Aereo streaming service

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Updated In response to a New York appeals court ruling that upheld the right of media mogul Barry Diller's fledgling Aereo streaming service to continue to provide its subscribers with broadcast television content, News Corp.'s president and COO Chase Carey says he might turn Fox television into a subscription-only cable service.

"If we can't have our rights properly protected through legal and political avenues, we will pursue business solutions," Carey said during his NAB keynote on Monday, Variety reports. "One such business solution would be to take the network and turn it into a subscription service."

At issue is Aereo's unique – and one might say bizarre – method of acquiring content for its service, which currently operates only in New York City, but has plans to expand to 22 other locations this year.

Simply put, Aereo sucks its content right out of the air using thousands of tiny antennas, then streams that content to its subscribers. How tiny is an antenna, you ask? According to Aereo's website, "So small it fits on the tip of your finger," so small that "hundreds of thousands of them can fit in a single room."

Each of those antennas is paired with an Aereo subscriber – a scheme that Diller & Co. argue exempts them from having to pay the broadcast company for their content. A lower court agreed with Aereo, and the appeals court agreed with the lower court.

Carey and other media heavyweights don't agree.

"Aereo is stealing our signal," said Carey at NAB. "We believe in our legal rights, we're going to pursue those legal rights fully and completely, and we believe we'll prevail."

And if he and his media brethren don't prevail, expect broadcast TV to soon become even more marginalized than it already is, and for cable subscriptions to be the only way that content will be offered.

Frankly, however, this Reg reporter would be surprised if he were alone in his personal opinion that the less Fox News content is freely available to the public at large, the better. ®

Update

An Aereo spokesperson provided us with the following emailed statement:

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.

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