Oz’s Nine net takes on IceTV in court

Free web wants to stop ability to block ads

SYDNEY — Free-to-air web the Nine Network goes to court Monday in a bid to stop startup media company IceTV from using its TiVo-style technology to block ads on free-to-air television.

IceTV uses a set-top box and weekly TV sked to allow users to record their fave skeins and skip ads for just A$3 ($2.25) a week.

Nine will argue in court that providing its schedule is a breach of copyright, although the schedule is made available to feevee customers and even to printed TV guides.

IceTV maintains it has legal advice suggesting its Personal Interactive Media Planner, or Pimp, is legal and just about “giving people back their freedom.”

This may be exactly what Nine wants to stop. With changes to media laws, a proposed revamp of antisiphoning laws that protect sports for free webs and the gradual shifting of auds to newer technologies, Aussie free webs are fighting to maintain their current revenue model and protect the standard 30-second advertisement.

Eventually, whether it is legal may not matter. Nine Network has heavyweight media org Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd. behind it, while IceTV is a small independent, so it may come down to who has the deeper pockets.

If Nine does win, Aussie consumers will have to wait longer for the technology already widely used in Blighty and the U.S.

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