Chernin on VOD: Pay Us

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New York -- News Corp. chief operating officer Peter Chernin had a snappy rebuttal Monday afternoon to what Comcast Corp. president Steve Burke had to say about getting broadcast-network content on video-on-demand servers: Pay us.

Speaking at a Forrester Research Inc. conference here, Chernin was asked to react to earlier Burke comments about a broadcast network not even wanting to hear Comcast’s pitches about putting network shows on VOD servers.

He replied, in part, “The specific issue with Comcast and video-on-demand, and what Steve neglected to tell you, is that there is a very specific pricing issue.”

He added, “The most contentious issue, certainly from our point of view and Comcast on video-on-demand, is pricing, because in their view, it’s free.”

Comcast wants to offer time-shifted network fare to help drive penetration of digital set-tops, to get people to buy more services from the MSO and keep them as customers longer, the Fox Group chairman and CEO said.

“Historically our view is that if people are using our content to build businesses, we need to be paid for it,” he added -- not paid “outrageously,” he said, but some acceptable price.

News Corp. has refused to let Comcast offer Fox broadcast fare on free-VOD, Chernin said, but he did provide some free-VOD programming on “nascent” cable channels that needed some more exposure, namely Speed Channel and National Geographic Channel.

In one of the more amusing exchanges, Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff asked Chernin if he would trade DirecTV Inc. subscribers straight up for equivalent cable customers (News Corp. controls DirecTV). “No,” Chernin replied, “but, first of all, it’s highly unlikely that even if I did feel that way, you were going to get me to admit that.”

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