Will the broadcast networks just pack up and go home if they lose?

In a move worthy of the finest schoolyard playground, News Corp’s COO Chase Carey has decided that if his many lawsuits fail, he’s prepared to pack up his marbles and go home. Mr. Carey, who once helmed DIRECTV, now oversees Fox’s broadcast operations and he doesn’t like the changes that are coming to broadcasting thanks to dual thorns-in-his-side DISH and Aereo.

DISH, of course, has the gall to allow their Hopper DVR to skip commercials, and not only that they let you watch your home DVR from anywhere in the country! For now, both things are legal. Aereo is the company that’s figured out how to make placeshifting legal with its farm of tiny little antennas.

What do they have in common? Fox is suing both of them.

Fox doesn’t want you to skip commercials, of course, because that’s where their revenue comes from. And what’s more, they don’t want you to watch your home DVR because that wouldn’t count in the ratings. They want you to watch the TV that’s in front of you. Further upsetting the lawyers over at Fox is the idea that Aereo charges for its service, something Fox can’t figure out how to do.

So, the big boys at Fox have decided to act like little boys. Thumping his chest and inspiring as much fear as a baby boomer with an ironic mustache can inspire (check out this picture of him) Mr. Carey has decided that if his company loses its lawsuits, he will just dismantle his broadcast operations and go cable/satellite only. Really? We’re supposed to believe that the network that brings you the top rated show in the country will just pack up and leave. Later, Mr. Carey clarified that position saying he would work to create a paid model for Fox broadcasting. Well, Mr. Carey… good luck on that. In this country all TV broadcasts must be free. If you are looking to encrypt those broadcasts so you can resell them, your affiliates will need completely new licenses.

Mr. Carey was speaking to the National Association of Broadcasters at their annual show, a group made up of broadcast television station owners and operators. This is the kind of group — possibly the only group — that would actually be scared by such a statement. He was joined, predictably, by CBS’ Les Moonves, who told the New York Times that CBS would consider moving to a paid model if these pesky, customer-friendly lawsuits don’t go his way.

We just don’t buy it. That’s a move you would expect from fifth-place NBC, but not from the top dog. It’s just not going to happen. It’s very possible that broadcast TV will eventually fade away, but it’s not happening this week or even this year. You’ll still find American Idol and your favorite sports on broadcast TV for years to come, and you’re not going to find these broadcasters walking away from lucrative licenses just because they can’t have 100% of the profits from their ventures. Cable and satellite companies already resell these channels… we don’t understand what the issue is.

Sorry, Mr. Carey, I’m just not scared.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.