Barry Diller regrets buying Newsweek

IAC/InterActiveCorp chairman Barry Diller tells Bloomberg Television: “I wish I had not bought Newsweek. It was a mistake.”

Barry Diller

Barry Diller

Printing a single magazine is a fool’s errand if that magazine is a news weekly. There are some magazines that have no competition essentially in their field, luxury magazines. For a news magazine, which is a bit of an odd phrase today, it was not possible to print it any longer. We said we will offer digital products. We have a very solid newsroom. We will see. I do not have great expectations.

* Diller calls Newsweek purchase “a fool’s errand” (businessweek.com)

More from Bloomberg Television’s Diller interview after the jump.

Diller on Aereo’s big picture:
“The big picture is to change the centricity of what has been closed systems to an open internet system. The platform allows you to get free over the air broadcasts. If you don’t like cable, paying $150 a month or so for services, if you don’t happen to not live without ESPN, if those are true for you as a consumer, being able to watch all free broadcast, all the events all of the local television for $8 a month is an alternative.”

On whether Aereo will create content and channels of its own:
“We are not in this that long, a radical revolution. We’re only beginning it in video. It started a few years ago. The bandwidth was not enough until a few years ago. The centricities will shift to the internet. What would you rather have, a satellite connection with a cable box and another box or would you rather have 1 wire that connects you to high speed bandwidth and able to get the enormous optionality of the internet?”

On whether Aereo’s business is worth the continual hassle of litigation:
“I do not know. I cannot answer that. There are conditions where if a certain amount, 10 million, 20 million U.S. households utilize the platform that will be very profitable. This is not done because I think here is a gold mine I can plant my flag on it. I am doing it because to me the ability to get the world to utilize the internet for all its information, entertainment, news, video to me it is a big shift. I understand broadcasting, no incumbent wants anyone in. That is an unbreakable rule.”

On broadcasters want to be compensated for the broadcasting signals:
“The law of the U.S. is that if you have an antenna, broadcasters must provide a signal that you can receive without any interference. That is the right of Americans who gave licenses to broadcasters. That is the covenant. We are providing a technological method for them to receive them. In 1972 or 1973, [Broadcasters said] the video recorder was an illegal thing. They went to the supreme court. And of course we all enjoy video records.”

On whether Rupert Murdoch is taking this threat seriously:
“I think what they are doing is making a lot of noise in the hopes they will get relief from Congress. I do not think they see Aereo as a “threat” but what they are nervous about is the shifting ground underneath them. As it becomes more and more difficult to justify ever increasing cable fees, satellite fees, as programmers and operators want more and more money and there are more and more programs, as that closed circle becomes ever more pricey there are going to be chinks in that armor if the technology which now allows it, will allow it. My attitude has been to jump into something that looks difficult and is against what people think will succeed and plant my little food. Sometimes it gets kicked.”

On Newsweek going digital only:
“Printing a single magazine is a fool’s errand if that magazine is a news weekly. There are some magazines that have no competition essentially in their field, luxury magazines. For a news magazine, which is a bit of an odd phrase today, it was not possible to print it any longer. We said we will offer digital products. We have a very solid newsroom. We will see. I do not have great expectations. I wish I had not brought Newsweek. It was a mistake.”

On why he purchased Brightline:
“We are a publisher, not a distributor. Amazon is a distributor. We looked at publishing controlled by five old line publishing hoses, honorable, very deep in their histories and all of that. They have no clue about online. It is an area between author and publisher that is very troubled. It is difficult to totally get rid of incumbents – old line incumbents – I am sure some publishing companies will survive. But if there is a competitor who has plenty of resources that comes in with an understanding of internet distribution and understanding of how you get subscribers and people to buy things on the internet and the company has a good editor who can publish good stuff, that company, I think, has a very open window to succeed.”

* July 2012: Diller’s IAC takes controlling interest of Newsweek (reuters.com)

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