ivi, broadcasters start to duke it out

When last we checked in on "highly disruptive" start-up ivi, the company was suggesting that people might be willing to pay $5 or so a month to get streamed video of their favor free over-the-air broadcast channels. That tenuous business model has broadcasters in a froth.

"It is blatantly illegal to steal broadcasters' copyrighted works and signals. We strongly support broadcasters and their program suppliers in their efforts to combat copyright abuse and signal piracy," stated the NAB, also known as the broadcasters' mouthpiece trade organization.

ivi, meanwhile, says it's a cable broadcaster that has been "wrongly accessed of copyright infringement." The start-up has sued to stop lengthy court fights brought on by broadcasters because "the copyright claims are unsubstantiated and are really just camouflage for trying to stifle innovation and competition. Furthermore, we pay broadcasters in accordance with the law just like cable."

Foregoing, for a moment, who would want to pay $4.99 a month for a package of 28 channels of FOX, NBC, CBS, CW, ABC and PBS content (sometimes known as cable's lifeline package), the question might actually revolve around the definition of a cable system and, for historical purposes, CATV (community antenna television) which is how the industry was founded. The ivi-broadcaster battle just shows how much cable and broadcasting have changed since those early days when broadcasters were happy to have anyone carry their content just to get it into consumer homes.

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