A solution for the Apple – iPod dilemma

October 20, 2005

“The best TiVo is no TiVo at all”

Wait. Who said that? I did. In fact, I’ve been saying it for years and years. Apple just proved it. Thank you, Mr. Jobs. Broadband has reached critical mass. Nearly every television station in the U.S. is now broadcasting over-the-air at 19.4 Mb/s. Every U.S. household has two pipes – big pipes – entirely capable of delivering data-packets of previously aired programming. You don’t need a TiVo. Game over.

“Houston, we have a problem…”

The backbone of our nation’s system of free over-the-air television is our local television affiliates. Considering the iPod dilemma with Desperate Housewives and Lost, where there is one ABC affiliate there are 191 others. Each of those local affiliates owns the exclusive rights to broadcast to the eyeballs which it can reach with its over-the-air signal. Therefore having just one version of Desperate Housewives available for download ignores the very tenet of our broadcast system, i.e. you need 192 versions.

A solution for Apple (and Google, and Yahoo, and Microsoft, and anyone else entering realm of local television)

It is simple. Really. When a person goes to iTunes to download a previously aired show, give them two options:

  1. $.67, or better yet, FREE, as it aired (commercials intact) by their local station. There isn’t a station in America that won’t encode their broadcast, zip-it-up and send it to Apple. A station can do this for less than a one-time investment of $20,000.
  2. $1.99 without commercials. Send the local station their cut. I’m sure most stations would set up a Paypal account to collect the money in real-time.

Technology exists to handle both scenarios. Using our air-to-web broadcast replication technology (AWBR) a local station’s coverage area is protected even if a broadcast occurs over the Internet. Simple.

Is it too late?

No. Our deployment team could be at Apple headquarters within hours. Way back when SHVA became SHVIA, we deployed our technology at Echostar and DirecTV within hours.

The Geneva (AWBR) technology deployed between Apple and their iTunes customers would ensure that local copyright is protected. I, for one, think the Apple and ABC initiative would be great for local broadcasting if we can get the local affiliate into the equation. The best TiVo is no TiVo at all…