Networks block Web shows from Google TV
Networks ABC, CBS and NBC are blocking Google TV viewers from its Web-based shows, according to Google, in a move that raises questions about how federal regulators should oversee the nascent but fast-growing market for Internet television.
"Google TV enables access to all the Web content you already get today on your phone and PC, but it is ultimately the content owner's choice to restrict their fans from accessing their content on the platform," Google said.
Google confirmed that it is in negotiations with those companies to deliver the Web versions of their shows. Logitech and Sony televisions carry Google's Internet television services, which is being sold by Best Buy.
The action, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, is sure to draw criticism from public interest groups and some federal regulators who have criticized a similar move by Fox in its fees battle with Cablevision. Last weekend, News Corp. blocked Cablevision's Internet customers from accessing Fox shows on Fox.com and Hulu.com, which it partly owns. The companies have been in a six-day stalemate over fees to retransmit Fox to Cablevision television subscribers.
Networks and movie studios have been reluctant to allow the Web-based versions of their shows to appear on new video distributors such as Google, which don't offer the same amount of advertising and subscription fees they have been getting from cable and satellite firms, analysts say.
But that is changing. Netflix has struck new deals with NBC Universal and Epix for Lionsgate and Paramount films. Hulu.com, however, has said it may go to a subscription model because it isn't making enough money from advertising to support its site.
According to Reuters, News Corp's Fox is also considering blocking access to shows on its Web site, but a decision has not yet been made, a source familiar with the matter said.
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) were among federal officials who criticized a similar decision by News Corp. to block content as a violation of open-Internet guidelines at the FCC that say consumers should have access to the content of their choice on the Web.
Stifel Nicolaus analyst Rebecca Arbogast said in a note earlier this week that such episodes will garner continued concern by lawmakers and FCC officials. The FCC has asked Comcast and NBC Universal about how its merger would impact the distribution of online videos as the biggest broadband provider and a major content firm combine.
"While the issue is analytically distinct from network neutrality, it could reinforce increased scrutiny of Internet video issues, including in the content of the Comcast/NBC Universal review," she wrote.
| October 22, 2010; 12:30 AM ET
Categories: Consumers, FCC, Google, Media, Online Video
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