It may not be sexy, but Peter Chernin, president and chief operating officer
of News Corp., said Hollywood's biggest problem is the lack of copyright
protection for digitized television shows and movies, allowing for rampant theft
over computer networks of studios' valuable intellectual property.
"There is no more important issue facing every person in this room," Chernin
told the Hollywood Radio & Television Society at a Tuesday luncheon. "If we
don't solve this, we are out of business."
Washington lobbyists -- particularly those in the offices of News Corp. and The
Walt Disney Co. -- have been working hard to convince Congress to move on a piece
of legislation that would, among other things, copy-protect digital-television
programs so viewers could not record shows digitally and then swap them over the
Internet. But the legislation faces opposition from consumer-electronics
manufacturers and technology companies, and it is proceeding slowly.
Chernin also said News Corp. may sell its Major League Baseball
team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, adding, "I'm not sure these things are core assets
for entertainment companies."
Chernin also confirmed that while DirecTV Inc.'s nationwide distribution remains
strategically of interest to News Corp., no conversations have been had yet with
DirecTV's owner, General Motors Corp. News Corp. executives have no intentions to
start any new discussions with GM until EchoStar Communications Corp.'s bid to
buy Hughes Electronics Corp. and DirecTV is officially put to rest.
Finally, Chernin attributed Fox News Channel's rise to No. 1 to the "genius"
of its leader, Roger Ailes, and because Fox News is "livelier, more interesting,
more fun and more interesting to watch" than cable news rivals Cable News Network, CNBC and