Media execs at Sun Valley weigh in on Diller's Aereo win

Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:12am EDT
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By Lisa Richwine and Liana B. Baker

SUN VALLEY, Idaho (Reuters) - Barry Diller, the consummate Hollywood dealmaker who revamped the TV business in the 1980s, is back in the media spotlight after a federal judge threw out an injunction against Aereo, the online TV service he backs.

Broadcasters including ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox had sought to stop Aereo from streaming free-to-air programs to phones, tablet computers and other devices for $12 a month. But on Wednesday the judge rejected the bid, setting the stage for a trial.

On Thursday the broadcasters filed notices of appeal at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The concern for TV industry executives and media investors is that if new services like Aereo are a success it could disrupt the $100 billion dollar pay-television industry for programmers and distributors as customers drop cable for more affordable services.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan said on Wednesday that while the broadcasters had demonstrated that they faced irreparable financial damage if the venture were allowed to continue, Aereo also showed it would face severe harm if the requested preliminary injunction were granted.

The decision makes Diller, IAC/InterActiveCorp chairman and veteran dealmaker, a controversial media player once again.

Diller is attending the Allen & Co event with fellow executives who are also plaintiffs against Aereo, including News Corp chair Rupert Murdoch, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger and CBS Corp CEO Les Moonves.

In an interview with Reuters, Diller insisted that Aereo would not change the television landscape he helped establish while at Hollywood companies like Paramount and Fox.   Continued...

Chief Executive Officer of IAC/InterActiveCorp Barry Diller attends the Allen & Co Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho July 12, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart