If you watch CNN you might have heard about the battle between Fox and Cablevision over re-transmission fees. It is an interesting battle but I guess not so much fun if you are a Cablevision customer (3 million New Yorkers).
Basically, Cablevision did not like/agree to pay Fox’s fees to retransmit Fox’ content so Fox cut them off. Cablevision pointed their customers to free Fox online content and when Fox found out, they blocked Cablevision’s Internet customers from being able to stream Fox’ online content!!
A good analogy in Canada would be if Rogers did not agree to pay what it determined to be un-reasonably high re-transmission fees from Bell to re-transmit CTV to its customers (Bell acquired CTV in October). Then if Bell blocked Rogers’ Internet customers from watching CTV’s online streaming content.
On the legal side, I don’t know how Fox can get away with blocking the free Internet content, however, they did. The FCC (similar to the CRTC in Canada) has not stepped in as of yet. Cablevision’s press release:
In the absence of any meaningful action from the FCC, Cablevision has agreed to pay Fox an unfair price for multiple channels of its programming including many in which our customers have little or no interest [….] In the end, our customers will pay more than they should for Fox programming, but less than they would have if we had accepted the unprecedented rates News Corp. was demanding when they pulled their channels off Cablevision.
Meanwhile, an OTT provider in the USA (over-the-top provider – which means a distributor of content to any Internet customer) called ivi TV (they re-transmit broadcast TV) saw this as an opportunity to help Cablevision in the interim by offering Cablevision’s customers its $4.99 per month service. By the way, ivi TV is currently being sued and also suing all the broadcasters, the latter claim ivi’s business is illegal whereas ivi disagrees (of course).
An interesting battle. This shows that content providers have a lot of power when they own good content that customers want. It is also interesting that a broadcaster has power over what we can watch over the Internet by blocking our Internet Service Provider from giving us access to content we want to watch.