More from Jamie Kellner (the guy who thinks that people who skip TV ads are thieves)
JK: I’m a big believer we have to make television more convenient or we will drive the penetration of PVRs and things like that, which I’m not sure is good for the cable industry or the broadcast industry or the networks.
CW: Why not?
JK: Because of the ad skips…. It’s theft. Your contract with the network when you get the show is you’re going to watch the spots. Otherwise you couldn’t get the show on an ad-supported basis. Any time you skip a commercial or watch the button you’re actually stealing the programming.
CW: What if you have to go to the bathroom or get up to get a Coke?
JK: I guess there’s a certain amount of tolerance for going to the bathroom. But if you formalize it and you create a device that skips certain second increments, you’ve got that only for one reason, unless you go to the bathroom for 30 seconds. They’ve done that just to make it easy for someone to skip a commercial.
CW: What if I’m using my PVR to rewind a story on CNN or pause during Moneyline With Lou Dobbs? That’s good for you, isn’t it, if I can keep watching the network when I might otherwise miss the shows?
JK: Is it good for me? It’s good to make it easier for consumers to watch the programs they want to watch. I’m not opposed to consumers getting a program without commercials in it. But they have to create a new model that charges them for that programming the way HBO charges them.
CW: Operators are putting PVRs in their boxes. A lot of people are getting into this concept and operators are saying, hey, if people are willing to pay for SVOD give us something we can sell. How do VOD and SVOD fit in with Turner?
JK: Our company is working on a number of different VOD models. The question’s whether these are going to be head-end-based models or in-home models and whether ultimately there’s going to be a license required for use of the copyrighted material, or whether people make a bet the Betamax case can cover this usage. My bet would be the Betamax case is not going to cover this usage. What was a highly questionable decision with the new technology will not stand up to the potential of the digital world. Whether there’s going to be a challenge or whether it’s going to be legislation, there’s going to be some way in the digital world that we can protect copywritten material. I think that that’s inevitable.
CW: The New York Times has an electronic edition that disappears a certain time after it’s downloaded. Do you see a possibility that I download that show and you give me a license to watch it three times and then it disappears?
JK: Again, I think that whether it’s legislation, whether it’s new technology, whether it’s challenging Betamax, whatever it is in the video marketplace, we’re going to have to find a way to protect copywritten material or there will be less of it made or it will not be made available in windows where it’s not protectable and that’s not good for consumers, so there’s got to be some way it’s protected. The audio marketplace–Napster and other companies had a great game going. They figured out how to use the Internet to give music away that they didn’t own and make it into a business. Everyone was planning on getting rich there at one point. The companies that are financing and own copyrights stepped in and challenged it, and it’s not a very rosy picture for them right now. I think the idea of copyright is very important–and it’s respected by the courts and our government–and as people realize the potential of what the Internet with digital can do in terms of distribution, I think there’s a good decision to be made that will protect the copyright…. Someone’s going to have to recognize that once we’ve entered the digital world people can send out perfect copies without any costs to large numbers of people in many different territories of the world [and] can dramatically disrupt the system that we’ve built that allows us to produce and distribute content and pay for it and make…a profit in the investment, and that has to be addressed.