经济学人:美国电视产业 广播电视业界的强盗
日期:2014-05-05 16:44



Television in America
The bandit of broadcast
The Supreme Court's decision on Aereo may affect more than the TV business
CHET KANOJIA, the founder of Aereo, wonders which actor will play him, when Hollywood makes a film about his startup disrupting the television industry. “Probably a white guy,” Mr Kanojia, who is Indian-American, says drolly. Whether his firm will feature on the big screen or rapidly be forgotten depends on the outcome of a lawsuit between Aereo and America's big free-to-air broadcast networks—such as ABC, CBS and Fox—which is being weighed by the Supreme Court. Oral arguments in the case were heard on April 22nd and a decision is due within months.
当好莱坞的电影公司想要拍一部关于Aereo创始人Chet Kanojia如何瓦解整个电视产业的电影之时,这位老板也在思考着到底让哪一位演员来扮演自己。“或许会挑个白人,”印度裔美国人Kanojia先生戏谑地说道。最后他的电影到底是能成功登上大荧幕,抑或是迅速被大家所遗忘,要取决于一场官司的最终结果。最高法院正在对这场官司进行权衡,而对抗双方则是Aereo与美国免费广播电视巨头,如美国广播公司、哥伦比亚广播公司和福克斯广播公司。案件的口头辩论在4月22日已经完成,而最终裁决将在数月之内宣布。

Mr Kanojia and Aereo are not yet household names, but are the subject of much debate among geeks, copyright lawyers and TV executives. Aereo picks up the signals of free-to-air channels and streams them to its subscribers over the internet, so they can watch them with the same good picture quality as they get via cable, but for a fraction of the average monthly cable bill. Each subscriber is assigned one of a huge number of thumbnail-sized aerials in Aereo's warehouses. Aereo claims this is in principle no different—and thus no less legal—than the subscriber putting an antenna on his roof. But broadcast bosses see it differently. They say Aereo is violating copyright law by not paying them for a “public performance” of their content.
So far Aereo is available in only 11 cities. But broadcasters worry that it threatens a fast-growing revenue stream: the fees they get from cable- and satellite-TV operators that retransmit their channels. Such fees came to about $3.3 billion in 2013, according to SNL Kagan, a data firm. The pay-TV companies would not want to keep paying these if Aereo did not have to. So broadcasters have threatened that if Aereo wins, they will take their content off the public airwaves and offer it through pay-TV only.
目前,Aereo的服务范围仅限于11个城市。但是,广播电视公司担心这样的服务会威胁到自身的快速增长利润源:对有线或者卫星电视运营商处所收取的转播费用。数据公司SNL Kagan所提供的资料显示,2013年该转播费用总计为33亿美元。如果Aereo公司无需为转播权买单,那么其他付费电视公司也将停止为自己的转播权付费。因此广播电视公司对Aereo公司做出了相应的警告:如果Aereo公司胜诉,那么他们将停止在公共无线频道上提供电视转播服务,转交由付费电视公司独家供应给观众。
Aereo has raised around $100m from various investors, including Barry Diller, a veteran media executive. Mr Diller's volte-face is worthy of a prime-time drama: having launched Fox, one of America's four big broadcast networks, in the 1980s, he is now a booster for broadcast's bandit. But if Aereo loses it will probably shut down. The government has supported the big broadcasters, undermining Aereo's chances. As for the courts, so far their judgments on Aereo's legality have been mixed: last year two federal courts sided with Aereo, but in February a federal court in Utah ordered it to close its operations in that state.
Legislation has not kept up with new technology. Cable in America is regulated by a 1992 law, and copyright by a 1976 one. Both were written before the rise of the commercial internet, notes Rich Greenfield of BTIG, a research firm.
法律法规没有跟上新科技的步伐。有线电视产业受1992年出台的法律管制,而版权问题则受1976年的法律所管理。来自调查机构BTIG的Rich Greenfield表示,在网络商务兴起之前这两部法律就已经制订完成。
Many are watching the case to make sure the verdict does not imply that it is piracy to transfer any sort of content via the internet without a licence from whoever owns the copyright to it. That could be costly for firms that store media files in the “cloud” for paying clients, such as Apple and Google. As Stephen Breyer, one of the Supreme Court justices, said in this week's hearing, “What disturbs me…is I don't understand what the decision for you or against you…is going to do to all kinds of other technologies.”

1.feature on 特征

And they come with built-in web cams, a common feature on netbooks.

Click ok to turn this feature on. If you do not want to use the feature, click cancel.

2.depend on 依赖;相信;信赖

Final project costs will depend on the route selected.

Few non-profits pay well and many depend on volunteers.

3.pick up 捡起;接载;学会

Yet occupancy and rental rates have started to pick up for prime properties.

For once in your life, could you pick up your dirty socks?

4.according to 根据,按照;据…所说

All firsts in a car, according to gm.

According to weiner, product teams will continue to crank.

  • implyvt. 暗示,意指,含有 ... 的意义
  • commercialadj. 商业的 n. 商业广告
  • transfern. 迁移,移动,换车 v. 转移,调转,调任
  • outcomen. 结果,后果
  • streamn. (人,车,气)流,水流,组 v. 流动,流出,飘动
  • supremeadj. 最高的,至上的,极度的
  • principlen. 原则,原理,主义,信念
  • decisionn. 决定,决策
  • copyrightn. 版权,著作权 adj. 版权的
  • routen. 路线,(固定)线路,途径 vt. 为 ... 安排