Media Analyst Cautions Broadcasters About Aereo Stance

Says they may be undercutting themselves with legal fight to take down Aereo
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Brian Wieser borrowed from classic comic strip
character, Pogo, in advising clients that broadcasters "have met the enemy
and he is us."

In
an e-mailed advisory, he suggested the just-introduced A la carte bill from
John McCain (R-Ariz.) and its Aereo-friendly provision blocking any move of
broadcast TV programming to cable, is one result of what he calls the
"unnecessarily vocal" stance by some broadcasters--CBS and Fox in
particular--against the Barry Diller-backed service delivering TV station
signals online.

Wieser,
senior analyst at Pivotal Research Group, has said previously that he thought
Aereo presented no near or mid-term threat to broadcasters' business model -- a
point on which broadcasters would appear to disagree.

Wieser
says he is concerned that broadcasters legal efforts to shut down what Wieser
calls a "consumer-friendly" and "so far legal" service,
might lose them support of Congress or regulators down the line.

He
suggests that while broadcasters give back to their communities, particularly
with high quality news, must adhere to programming standards, have some
limitations on advertising and public service and children's TV obligations,
they also benefit from free spectrum, limited competition for licenses,
favorable tax policies for content production, must-carry and retransmission
consent requirements, and syndicated exclusivity and network nonduplication
rules.

"All
things considered, broadcasters have a pretty good deal going presently,"
he says. "However, as Senator McCain's initiative highlights, their
ability to maintain their business model may depend on a shift of focus in the
public discourse to the services they offer rather than how much they are going
to get paid. Doing so may be necessary to protect the retransmission consent
revenues that they - and their investors - have come to count on.

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