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There are 8,600 Apps for how to skin a cat – Broadcast is only one

News is just starting to leak about a new US start up called Bamboom


Published: 21 April, 2011


News is just starting to leak about a new US start up called Bamboom. It’s website goes through a laborious video explaining exactly what it does, because at first look it’s not obvious. It picks a building in each major town in the US, puts into it a cluster of thousands of tiny TV antennas, each with their own tuners and it will tune them into local broadcast stations and send the results over the internet, to people that live in the area. It is integrated with Netflix too and its servers can route Netflix content to the Bamboom app on a tablet or phone.

It seems a convoluted “heath Robinson” affair (look up the cartoons on Google), but it is intended to get around various US laws – ostensibly one that says that you have to pay a license for a public performance of a movie or TV show, and one that says that if you store content and offer it to someone else, it is a breach of copyright, but if you let their actions store it by remote control, then it is acceptable.

Before we talk about the idea seriously (as if one could) there is a fundamental flaw in this and in other, seemingly similar ideas. There is the Zediva idea of stacking DVDs up in a warehouse and having them controlled remotely by customers “renting” DVDs, and the Ivi idea of broadcasting local TV channels over the internet to anyone, and FilmOn, which had a similar service which has already been forced off the air following a suit from broadcasters. The other two are “being” sued and so far are still in business.

The flaw IS not a legal one, it’s the fact that this type of content availability SHOULD be made easy by the very companies trying to stop it.

We don’t want to argue the merits of Zediva and the fact that the company pays for a copyright license to the content, but doesn’t pay the broadcasters anything. Similarly we don’t want to argue that the national broadcast TV channels “give” away content, and that’s their only business model and that if someone else “gives” it away, surely that means they can claim that more people are watching their adverts. There are arguments on both sides and we can see that. The difference is that the national broadcast channels own the content and they want the right to exploit the content outside of the broadcast window, including the must carry rules that puts it on pay TV networks.

But apart from creating Hulu, a single business, which in our mind is designed to fail, the networks have done nothing about exploiting their content on the internet.

It is true that cable just went ahead and carried local TV channels, and then later were mandated to do so, to keep broadcast channels alive. The same happened with satellite TV. If the same happens with the internet then just anyone will be able to send US TV channels anywhere, and not have to build an expensive network of their own to do it as cable and satellite have done. All that is happening here is that the Broadcast networks want to decide for themselves how best to exploit the internet with content they paid for. And by local channels we most specifically include the signal of affiliates to the national networks – CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox.

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