R.I.P. free Capitalism
Last Friday, Aereo, a service that promised to offer the free over-the-air television service that providers, media companies, and the government failed to provide, signed its death certificate with a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. While the company had a valid argument for its legality, it had no chance against mainstream media corporations. Like many innovative companies that have attempted to disrupt entire industries and move the world forward, Aereo was forced into bankruptcy by a long fight in court with defunct regulations and a broken system.
In actuality, Aereo did not violate copyright laws. It was simply a service that rented out tiny, controllable Internet-connected antennas to users in a visually appealing interface. Each user rented their own antenna and picked up service like they would normally legally be allowed via their own personal antenna. It was essentially a remote TiVo.
However, while young tech-savvy people rejoiced that they would be able to watch news channels or their favorite shows online, television providers and networks saw just how big of a threat the service was to their traditional model. They knew that if it became successful, it could disrupt their traditional business model, in which they rip off consumers by charging them sometimes upward of $100 a month, all while wasting minutes of their lives every hour with advertisements.
According to The New York Times, one in three millennials watches mostly online video and no broadcast television. Young people like on-demand content and are sick of the archaic model of television technologies. Views of television networks drop in the U.S. because young people no longer see the utility in paying $100 a month for something they can get for free online in a more on-demand fashion. Additionally, the free over-the-air service provided by the United States government is completely laughable.
Why is free television still over-the-air and not online in 2014? Aereo sought to add something that should have existed half a decade ago. The only reason it does not exist is because large service providers wish to keep their monopoly on any kind of service that is not terrible (as the current United States over-the-air network is).
The story of Aereo and the Supreme Court’s ruling of its illegality earlier this year is one that repeats itself in many instances. Why are there not Tesla stores in every state? Why are Uber and Lyft illegal in half of the country? There are no good reasons to any of these questions besides greed. Lobbyists of multibillion dollar corporations are the reason why many of the industries in the United States are in great need of innovation.
With every article I read about another company that has been killed by lobbying and government regulations, I begin to wonder — is the United States still the same nation that embraces innovation and creativity over all else? Government regulations are not meant to protect archaic company models from the disruption of innovation; they are meant to create the most fair and free competitive market possible. Clearly, in the case of Aereo, the court was neither fair nor in favor of the free market. R.I.P. Aereo, and R.I.P. free capitalism.