Diller: Administration's Aero Stance is Anti-Consumer

The Wall Street Journal, whose parent, News Corp., also owns Fox, gave IAC chairman Barry Diller -- former head of Fox -- op ed space Thursday to defend Aereo, the online TV station delivery service Fox is opposing as a copyright infringer.

Diller is a minority investor in Aereo, and he took aim at the Obama Administration for not backing Aereo.

Diller's piece comes days before the Supreme Court is to hear oral arguments in the case on April 22.

In the piece, Diller says that broadcasters don't own the airwaves and shouldn't be allowed to keep viewers from watching free TV on the device of their choice via an "antenna in the cloud."

"[B]roadcasters claim Aereo is "stealing" their content. Why is the industry pushing to punish those who wish to receive their television through airwaves, which are not owned by broadcasters? The answer is obvious: Broadcasters make more money when consumers are steered away from over-the-air program delivery and toward cable and satellite systems that pay the broadcasters retransmission fees."

Diller took aim at the Administration for backing broadcasters in the fight. "Broadcasters have now corralled the White House into joining their efforts to crush any innovation that challenges the status quo and the industry's lucrative business model," he said.

The Solicitor General's office filed a friend of the court brief in support of broadcasters saying Aereo's delivery of over-the-air TV signals via the Internet without payment is a public performance in violation of copyright.

The SG's office also agrees with broadcasters that the Supreme Court can rule against Aereo without calling into question the entire cloud storage regime.

"No one has offered any coherent factual or legal basis that justifies the broadcasters'—and now the administration's—attempts to condemn consumers to the use of an antenna from a bygone era," asserted Diller. "It is unfortunate that the broadcasters and the administration have aligned themselves against competition, choice and the consumer. The Supreme Court should set them straight."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.