News Corp threatened to make Fox a cable-only channel if web startup Aereo Inc wins the battle. If the company follows through with its threat, Fox would no longer be free.
The comments were made by News Corp CEO Chase Carey in the company’s battle against Aereo, an online TV service.
It isn’t the first time the network industry has shown opposition to the internet startup, but it is certainly the strongest threat showing the industry doesn’t approve of the new company.
Aereo offers a cut-rate TV subscription online by capturing broadcast signals over thousands of antennas at one time.
Carey’s threats regarding Fox cane at an industry trade show just one week after a US appeals court rejected a petition by broadcasters to stop the service — for now, at least. The News Corp CEO spoke at the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas, saying:
“If we can’t have our rights properly protected through those legal and political avenues, we will pursue business solutions. One such business solution would be to take the network and turn it into a subscription service.”
If the company follows through, it would be the most drastic action taken against companies who don’t conform to the traditional TV model.
The battle between News Corp and Aereo is being watched by the entire industry. The internet startup and similar companies are seen as a threat to the industry’s ability to control subscription fees and generate income from advertising.
Aereo is backed by IAC, which is chaired by media heavyweight Barry Diller. Diller helped launch the Fox Network in 1986. Virginia Lam, a spokeswoman for Aereo, stated after New Corp’s announcement:
“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.”
Should Fox become a subscription service, Carey stated that the network would be in partnership with its current partners and affiliates. He added that the company would pursue all legal avenues against Aereo before making the decision to move Fox to cable.