IAC/Interactive Corp chairman and founder Barry Diller defended his investment in Aereo by arguing consumers have a “right” to the service and that the company not simply exploiting a “legal loophole” in the law.
Diller also contended that recent threats made by executives at News Corp. and other broadcasters to move networks from broadcast to cable was really an effort to spur Congressional action.
Diller made the comments to Bloomberg Television from the Milken Global Conference, where he appeared as a speaker earlier in the morning of April 29.
Aereo uses tiny coin-sized antennas to receive broadcast signals and sells bundles of them to consumers who can then receive the live feeds on internet connected devices. Broadcasters have sued the service, claiming it violates copyright laws.
"I think what they are doing is making a lot of noise in the hopes they will get relief from Congress,” he told Bloomberg TV. “That is actually what they are going. I do not think they see Aereo as a ‘threat’ but what they are nervous about is the shifting ground underneath them. As it becomes more and more difficult to justify ever increasing cable fees, satellite fees, as programmers and operators want more and more money and there are more and more programs, as that closed circle becomes ever more pricey there are going to be chinks in that armor if the technology which now allows it, will allow it. My attitude has been to jump into something that looks difficult and is against what people think will succeed and plant my little food. Sometimes it gets kicked.”
Diller described Aereo as a service for people who don’t want to pay $150 a month for a multichannel service and who can live without ESPN. “If those are true for you as a consumer, being able to watch all free broadcast, all the events all of the local television for $8 a month is an alternative."
He also told Bloomberg TV that Aereo would be a “very profitable” service if it could get “a certain amount, 10 million, 20 million U.S. households utilize the platform” but said he “didn’t know” if all the litigation around the service would prove to be worth it.