By Liana B. Baker
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - News Corp's Fox TV network raised the stakes in its battle with Web startup Aereo Inc on Monday, threatening to remove itself from the free airwaves entirely and become a cable channel if courts do not shut down the online TV service.
The comments by News Corp's chief operating officer, Chase Carey, were the strongest sign yet of network industry opposition to Aereo, which offers a cut-rate TV subscription for consumers by capturing broadcast signals over thousands of antennas at one time.
Carey's comments at an industry trade show came a week after a U.S. appeals court rejected a petition by broadcasters to stop the service, at least for now.
"If we can't have our rights properly protected through those legal and political avenues, we will pursue business solutions. One such business solution would be to take the network and turn it into a subscription service," said Carey, speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas.
The television industry is closely watching the case to see whether it could disrupt the traditional TV model. The industry sees Aereo and other similar services as a threat to its ability to control subscription fees and generate advertising income, its two main sources of revenue.
Aereo could cut the numbers of people who need or want a more expensive cable video subscription, which would eat into an estimated $3 billion that broadcasters will reap this year from cable and satellite systems in so-called retransmission fees, according to a projection by research firm SNL Kagan.
"It is clear that the broadcast business needs a dual revenue stream from both ad and subscription to be viable," Carey said.
Aereo is backed by IAC, a company chaired by media heavyweight Barry Diller, who actually was behind the launch of the Fox Network in 1986.
"It's disappointing to hear that Fox believes that consumers should not be permitted to use an antenna to access free-to-air broadcast tele
Sentiment: Strong Buy
NOT A QUICK PROCESS
Carey added that if Fox became a subscription service, it would be in partnership with its content partners and affiliates. He emphasized in his remarks that pursuing legal avenues would be the priority, however, before making such a move.
BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield said that "switching to a cable network is not a simple, quick process," but the fact that broadcast executives are talking about that kind of move means Aereo is a real threat to their business.
Last June, News Corp announced a plan to split its publishing and entertainment assets into two publicly traded companies. The entertainment businesses, which include the 20th Century Fox film studio, Fox broadcasting network and Fox News channel, will be called the Fox Group.
News Corp shares closed 2.5 percent higher at $31.41 on Monday. Others participating in the Aereo lawsuit include Comcast's Corp's NBC and Walt Disney Co's ABC. CBS declined to comment, while representatives of NBC and ABC did not immediately respond.
(Editing by Bob Burgdorfer and Matthew Lewis)
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Summit Entertainment, a Lionsgate company, announced today that principal photography has commenced in Chicago on the upcoming feature film adaptation of Divergent, starring Golden Globe nominated Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Academy Award winner Kate Winslet.
The studio also announced that Ray Stevenson and Mekhi Phifer will join a stellar young cast including Maggie Q, Jai Courtney, Miles Teller, Zoë Kravitz, Ansel Elgort, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Ben Lamb, Christian Madsen, and Amy Newbold.
The futuristic action adventure, based on author Veronica Roth’s New York Times best seller, will be directed by Neil Burger from a script by Vanessa Taylor. The original draft of the script was written by Evan Daugherty. Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher are producing the project via their Red Wagon Entertainment banner along with Pouya Shahbazian. Red Wagon’s Rachel Shane is executive producing, alongside John J. Kelly.
Divergent is described as being a thrilling adventure set in a future world where people are divided into distinct factions based on their personalities, Tris Prior (Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy to destroy all Divergents, she must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it's too late.
Erik Feig, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group’s President of Production, and Gillian Bohrer, Lionsgate’s SVP of Production, are overseeing the project for the studio. Summit will release the film theatrically in North America on Friday, March 21, 2014.
Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” adaptation will be the Seattle International Film Festival’s opening night film on May 16.
Whedon is scheduled to attend, along with stars Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Nathan Fillion, and Clark Gregg.
Lionsgate acquired North American distribution rights to “Much Ado About Nothing” following its premiere in September at the Toronto Film Fest. Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions have set a June 7 release for New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, followed by an expansion on June 21.
Whedon’s version of the Shakespeare comedy, with a contemporary spin, also stars Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese, Sean Maher and Reed Diamond.
Kai Cole and Whedon produced “Much Ago” through Bellwether Pictures, with Daniel Kaminsky as co-producer. The film was shot in 12 days, using the original text, after Whedon completed principal photography for Marvel’s “The Avengers” and was contractually obligated to take time off before continuing with post-production.
The film also marks Whedon’s debut as a cinematic composer