Barry Diller

Barry Diller, IAC chairman and a key investor in Aereo, said that the startup streaming service will likely see its demise if it loses its Supreme Court battle with broadcasters.

“If we lose, we’re finished,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker. “…It’s very possible that there’s some salvage. But Aereo would probably, as I say probably just because … I can’t see any path forward. It probably would not be able to continue in business.”

Diller also dismissed threats by broadcasters that they would become cable channels if Aereo is allowed to continue. Stations argue that Aereo, which offers digital streams of broadcast signals to subscribers, undermines their ever-more lucrative revenue stream from retransmission fees from cable and satellite operators.

“I think it’s very unlikely that a broadcaster who built their business on spectrum that they got for free, spectrum that by definition belongs to the American people, they got it free in return for investing in and building a direct system, that, if you could get the system directly, you could receive it without anybody in the middle,” he said.

“It’s a nice threat to convince the court or to convince Congress that this would be a terrible, terrible thing to disenfranchise, you know that — 60 million people right away, who don’t subscribe to cable or satellite and who do get over-the-air. It’s inconceivable to me that it could actually happen,” he added.

A victory for Aereo, he said, would mean that the company would have the basis for expanding and build out through the rest of the United States. He said Aereo “would be in every urban center, in any urban city, certainly in top 30 to 40 markets.”

He said Aereo was “an alternative to a closed system,” of “much less cost.” He said that Aereo could “probably” just pay retransmission fees to broadcasters, but “the value proposition would go out of the game because Aereo is a low-cost method of receiving over-the-air broadcasting.”

Oral arguments in the broadcasters’ challenge to Aereo are scheduled for April 22.

 

 

 

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