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Cable Technology Feature Article

November 03, 2010

Broadcasters Oppose Google TV, Demand Payment

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

There seems to be a misunderstanding between Google and broadcasters over Google (News - Alert) TV. According to an Associated Press report, broadcasters want to be paid and Google wants to offer the service for free. The big question is: which side is right?

Google TV is the company’s new Web-connected TV platform that allows users to access websites and online videos through their televisions. Broadcasters such as ABC, NBC and CBS have blocked full episodes of their shows from being broadcast through the platform until they receive payment for the privilege.

Google is chalking this up to a misunderstanding, claiming the broadcasters just don’t understand the platform. Google TV’s lead product manager, Rishi Chandra, compared the payment request to a network demanding fees from Microsoft (News - Alert) so video would work on its Internet Explorer browser.

It is possible that this blockade is an attempt by the broadcasters to prevent people from canceling their monthly subscriptions with cable and satellite TV service providers. Customers who may already be discouraged with the service provided may decide that free online viewing is preferred.

Chandra did note that Google TV would not pay for access to online shows, although YouTube – a Google subsidiary – could extend its advertising revenue-share model to the living room.

"The way we would pay for content is through a similar mechanism that we pay for content through YouTube," Chandra said in a phone interview with the Associated Press. "This is the difference between Google TV and YouTube. YouTube is a service. Google TV itself is literally just a platform."

According to Chandra, Google TV is meant to supplement the cable and broadcast TV business model by adding Web access. It will be up to content providers to determine how much to charge consumers.

He also shared that Google TV is in the process of setting up access to Hulu (News - Alert) Plus, the $10-per-month online video subscription plan that will allow users to access the back episodes of many current TV shows from Fox, NBC and ABC. Will this be the ultimate direction of Google TV or will the broadcasters cave?

In other Google news, rumors have surfaced that the company – along with Apple (News - Alert) – is in talks with BOKU over the potential of an acquisition, or at least a wide-reaching partnership. The company has been in high-level meetings with Google director of engineering, Michael Morrissey, who managing developments for Google Mobile Services for Android (News - Alert).

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf