Google’s Eric Schmidt tries to quell television network backlash against Google TV


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In an interview with John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly onstage at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt addressed the Hollywood backlash against Google TV, saying that ongoing discussions with the television industry are going well and that Google is sharing data to help persuade broadcasters who are blocking Google TV to reconsider.

Fox Broadcasting said Thursday that it had started blocking video on its website from playing on Google’s new TV service. The move came four weeks after ABC, CBS and NBC blocked their programming from Google TV. Broadcasters say they are unsure about how they will make money as more video content floods the Web.


Schmidt painted Google TV as a major opportunity for Hollywood. He noted that this is the first time an effort has been made to merge the Internet and television on such a scale. ‘I’m quite confident we’ll get through this one because the technology is so powerful,’ he said.

U.S. consumers pay about $70 billion each year to cable and satellite companies to watch movies and TV. While Schmidt said he understood how much money was at stake for content owners and distributors, he said they were cutting themselves off from greater revenue potential by blocking Google TV. With Google TV, consumers would watch more programming, he argued.

‘The way to get more revenue is to create more revenue sources, and the way to do that is through things like Google TV,’ Schmidt said.

He added that Google was not interested in driving television revenue to zero, a reference to the music industry’s troubles. ‘We want to make the revenues larger,’ he said.

But Schmidt did poke fun at the industry with which he said he was trying to broker peace. He recalled discussing Google TV with one TV executive who remarked: ‘Do you realize you’re taking a dumb television and making it smart?’ Schmidt said he replied: ‘Yes, we’re guilty of that.’

-- Jessica Guynn