NAB 2013: Fox Could Turn to Pay TV if Aereo Ruled Legal

Aereo is really stirring the broadcast cable pot these days. In a radical announcement made during NAB in Las Vegas, News Corp. President Chase Carey said the company would consider converting its Fox broadcast network into a pay TV channel in response to the Aereo legal dispute. Broadcasters have taken Aereo to court over its service that basically enables users to rent small antennas to record free-to-air channels.

“We won’t just sit idle and allow our content to be actively stolen,” said Carey in a statement released later. “We have no choice but to develop business solutions that ensure we continue to remain in the driver’s seat of our own destiny.”

In a statement, Aereo spokeswoman Virginia Lamsaid responded, “It’s disappointing to hear that Fox believes that consumers should not be permitted to use an antenna to access free-to-air broadcast television.”

And Carey may not be alone. Univision Communications could also do the same, possibly representing an already-present desire on their part anyway. “Broadcast networks for years have contemplated converting into cable channels. As a cable channel, the networks’ programming would be carried only by cable operators rather than broadcast over the air through local TV stations,” writes the Wall Street Journal.

As an ongoing legal battle looms, Paul Gallant, managing director at Guggenheim Securities says, “It may be aimed at getting Congress to focus on the issue — either to shut down Aereo or require them to pay carriage fees.”

“He said Congress in the next 18 months may re-authorize a law related to satellite TV carriage of broadcast TV signals,” notes WSJ. “Congress could weigh in on Aereo as part of that re-authorization, Mr. Gallant said.”