News Corp.'s Chase Carey: Aereo Could Force Fox Off Broadcast Air

Chase Carey - attends HRTS - 2010
Valerie Macon/Getty Images

Court rulings allowing Barry Diller's startup to continue streaming over-the-air signals online would prompt the move, Carey told the audience at NAB: "We can't sit idly by and let someone steal our signal."

LAS VEGAS--Speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters's annual trade show, News Corp. president Chase Carey warned that if the company is not able to protect its right to its content from platforms such as Aereo it would consider turning the network into a subscription service.

“That’s not one we want, but we can’t sit idly by and let someone steal our signal,” he asserted. “We like the broadcast business, and if we can affirm our rights, that is a path we prefer to pursue.”

One solution would be to make Fox a subscription service if Aereo kept prevailing in the court system.

“Aereo is stealing our signal. ... (But) we are are going to pursue our legal rights,” he emphasized.

RELATED: Judge Denies Injuction Against Barry Diller's Aereo

“We need to be able to be fairly compensated for our content.”, he added, saying that “a dual revenue stream [with subscription fees and advertising] is critical.”

Aereo was launched in the New York market in March, 2012 after gathering $20.5 million in financial backing from Barry Diller and other investors. Soon after, the broadcasters filed a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Last week, the digital TV distributor scored a big win at an appellate court when the judges there ruled that the company shouldn't be enjoined from operating. TV broadcasters say they are exploring their options and are continuing to assert that Aereo is responsible for stealing their programming. A trial could happen sometime next year.

Carey said the Aereo issue was "huge" and that the legal rulings have been "disappointing."

News Corp. released a statement elaborating on Carey's comment:

News Corporation has a long-standing commitment to the broadcast television business, and to delivering the highest-quality entertainment, sports and news programming to our viewers on a localized basis.  We are committed to broadcasting under a business model where programmers receive fair compensation from parties that want to redistribute our product while continuing to make our product available for free to individual consumers that want to access our signal.

We believe that Aereo is pirating our broadcast signal.  We will continue to aggressively pursue our rights in the courts, as well as pursue all relevant political avenues, and we believe we will prevail.

That said, we won’t just sit idle and allow our content to be actively stolen. It is clear that the broadcast business needs a dual revenue stream from both ad and subscription to be viable. We simply cannot provide the type of quality sports, news, and entertainment content that we do from an ad supported only business model.  We have no choice but to develop business solutions that ensure we continue to remain in the driver’s seat of our own destiny.  One option could be converting the FOX broadcast network to a pay channel, which we would do in collaboration with both our content partners and affiliates."

Aereo spokesperson Virginia Lam responds:

"Aereo has invented a simple, convenient way for consumers to utilize an antenna to access free-to-air broadcast television, bringing television access into the modern era for millions of consumers. 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. Over 50 million Americans today access television via an antenna. When broadcasters asked Congress for a free license to digitally broadcast on the public's airwaves, they did so with the promise that they would broadcast in the public interest and convenience, and that they would remain free-to-air. Having a television antenna is every American's right."