Univision Says Aereo Could Force It to Go 'Pay-Only'

2012-23 REP DEALS Haim Saban P

When Haim Saban launched the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the 1990s, he quickly built an empire by spinning off the kids TV series into licensed toys, apparel and much more.

Univision's chairman Haim Saban sounds the Aereo alarm after News Corp COO raised the possibility of becoming a subscription cable service earlier in the day.

Add another broadcast channel to those exploring the nuclear option.

Earlier today,  News Corp. president Chase Carey raised the possibility of turning Fox into a subscription service if digital TV distributor Aereo continued its legal success. Carey's comments came at the National Association of Broadcasters's annual trade show.

Now, Univision chairman Haim Saban is echoing Carey's concern and says that his company is also planning for contingencies if Aereo is able to fend off a copyright infringement lawsuit.

"“Simply put, we believe that Aereo is pirating broadcasters’ content," said Saban. " As Chase Carey said, no broadcaster can afford to sit idly by and allow Aereo’s theft to continue unchecked."

Univision is the nation's largest Spanish-language channel with local stations in over 50 markets. The programming is so popular that in February, the network finished fourth in the ratings ahead of NBC.

But would Univision become a cable company only?

Saban adds, "To serve our community, we need to protect our product and revenue streams and therefore we too are considering all of our options -- including converting to pay TV.  With Hispanics watching over-the-air news and entertainment at twice the rate of non-Hispanics, being forced to convert to cable would significantly impact this community.”

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. Last week, Aereo scored a big win at an appellate court when the judges there ruled that the company shouldn't be enjoined from operating. The case now continues in a New York federal court and a trial could happen sometime next year.