IP Inferno Consumes TV
As VoIP becomes a household word in 2005 -- or disappears from the vocabulary because ALL voice is over IP -- we watch as the next industry is consumed by IP. Today's ruling by a federal court against "broadcast flags" will certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court or to Congress directly. As such it is an interesting indicator of the battles to come over the future of digital entertainment.
The Washington Post's Peter Kaplan quoted the US Court of Appeals statement:
"We can find nothing in the statute, its legislative history, the applicable case law, or agency practice indicating that Congress meant to provide the sweeping authority the FCC now claims over receiver apparatus," the three-judge appeals court panel said in its opinion.Kaplan also quoted National Association of Broadcasters President Edward Fritts as saying
"Without a 'broadcast flag,' consumers may lose access to the very best programming offered on local television. We will work with Congress to authorize implementation of a broadcast flag..."Could it really be true that broadcasters will refrain from delivering programming to their audiences without broadcast flags? Is this the same industry that reports declines in viewership every year?
Content copyright holders clearly have a legitimate right to protect their work from being copied and redistributed illegally. But it seems that the larger problem is delivering content that consumers actually want to watch. At the heart of this problem is the medium itself -- linear broadcast programming. When you think about the world from the perspective of an 8 PM "timeslot" on Thursday nights, and your objective is to have the most valuable audience seated in their living room, glued to the glowing light in the corner you immediately lose the MAJORITY of consumers.
Here is a simple recipe for the content industry -- make it EASIER for consumers to get access to content, not harder. I know this is counter-intuitive, but what if consumers could go to the Internet and access the programming they cared about, whenever and wherever they wanted. What if you charged them a small amount of money or got them to agree to watch targeted advertising for each program? Would you need broadcast flags?
Why do consumers want to make a copy of a program? So they can watch that program at some other time or place than it is being made available. Eliminate that restriction and you eliminate the need to make a copy. Streaming media content over IP networks is coming, and it is going to burn down the entire broadcast flag debate.