Hands Off my Slingbox!

The WSJ (likely requires sub) has a must-read on what is unfortunately a familiar story: an established industry is threatened by new technology and goes crying to Big Government rather than compete or innovate.

“Geographic lines that have held certain parts of the TV business together are being eradicated and it’s a big concern,” says Brad Adgate, senior vice president at Horizon Media, a New York consulting firm….

If viewers don’t need a local station to watch “Friends” reruns, the show might not fetch as much in syndication. “Nobody is going to pay a very high price for a show that is all over cyberspace,” says Don Lundy, general manager of McGraw-Hill Cos.’ WRTV station in Indianapolis, an ABC affiliate….

“The whole business model in the broadcast industry is based on geographic exclusivity. … The potential use of the Slingbox fractures that,” says Jerald Fritz, senior vice president for legal and strategic affairs at Allbritton Communications Co….

These new technologies are fueling efforts this year by the entertainment industry to persuade Congress to pass legislation that gives studios and networks new legal tools to fight piracy…Meanwhile, lawmakers are also considering tackling the problem of consumers who want to put online older, analog media, such as programs recorded from VHS tapes. House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin, and ranking Democrat John Conyers of Michigan, last year introduced a bill that would impose criminal penalties of up to $1 million and 10 years in prison for anyone illegally copying analog material and putting it online.

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