Michael Grotticelli /
10.25.2010 08:00 AM
Google TV blocked by TV networks

In new trouble for the nascent Google TV, three broadcast networks and Hulu are blocking viewers from using the service on their websites.

At first, viewers could watch the full shows on TVs and set-top boxes that use the Google TV software, which Sony and Logitech began selling this month. However, by the end of last week, the viewing of most full shows on the websites of NBC, ABC, CBS and Hulu were blocked.

Viewers could still visit the sites and watch clips, but not entire television shows. They could also watch regular non-Internet programming. However, Google TV uses an Internet browser that allows viewers to do other activities while watching television. The networks don’t like this because they feel it takes control from broadcasting and advertising, and could cannibalize TV viewership.

The networks also want Google to share revenue from ads on Google TV, block illegal Internet sources of their shows and ensure that their shows stand out amid the flood of programs and videos on the Web.

The network’s blockage raises questions about how federal regulators should oversee the fast-growing market for Internet television. “Google TV enables access to all the Web content you already get today on your phone and PC, but it is ultimately the content owner’s choice to restrict their fans from accessing their content on the platform,” Google said.

The action, first reported by “The Wall Street Journal,” is certain to draw criticism from public interest groups and some federal regulators who have criticized a similar move by Fox in its fees battle with Cablevision. The companies remain in a stalemate over fees to retransmit Fox to Cablevision television subscribers. The broader issue also extends to the Comcast-NBC Universal merger decision.

Rebecca Arbogast, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus, said in a note last week that such disputes would continue to concern lawmakers and FCC officials. “While the issue is analytically distinct from network neutrality, it could reinforce increased scrutiny of Internet video issues, including in the content of the Comcast/NBC Universal review,” Arbogast wrote.

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