June 28th, 2014


The headline that *should* be going in the tech news

Broadcasters demand that Supreme Court make broadcast television irrelevant

Having won a conclusive victory in their court case against Aereo, the broadcast television industry (in this case represented by Fox) chose to press their advantage by mounting a lawsuit against Dish's Hopper DVR system. Fox' representative stated, "Like Aereo, Dish is allowing viewers to watch our network in a way that is convenient to them. We won't stand for that -- if they aren't willing to watch it over the airwaves or cable systems, then we don't want them as customers at all".

Given the recent Supreme Court precedent, legal observers felt that Fox' case stands on solid legal ground, and was likely to further their long-held goal of rendering broadcast television irrelevant and moribund by the year 2020.
Yes, I can come up with not *entirely* idiotic reasons for this push by the broadcasters (mostly in that this model neither gives them the direct revenue they get from cable, nor prevents people from fast-forwarding through the ads). But seriously: this whole dispute seems to be about the broadcasters vs. the customers. Folks have found non-sucktastic ways to view broadcast television, and the broadcasters are having a hissy fit about it.

And really, what's the likely outcome? I mean, it's not 1980 any more, and broadcast TV just doesn't *matter* as much as it thinks it does. The broadcasters can and likely will win their legal point, and the end result is likely to be that all unauthorized attempts to retransmit broadcast television will get shut down. That's about as pyrrhic a victory as I can think of, though: all it's likely to do is accelerate the trend for folks to watch video *other* than broadcast television. The under-35 crowd in particular (most of whom wouldn't even recognize a TV antenna, and many of whom get all their video via Internet these days), seems likely to largely respond with a gigantic shrug, puzzled by why these old-fashioned companies are deliberately trying to prevent them from watching (but not caring very much).

Horribly strained metaphor (involving horse owners suing saddle makers during steam engine time) deleted, but you get the point. This really does seem to be an example of pissy legalism being used as a last resort, by companies that have no real strategy for survival...