Freelancer Cari Lynn is contributing to Deadline’s coverage.
Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman acknowledges that it will take time before Congress revisits the anti-piracy bills that Hollywood supported: the Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). But the one-time lawyer says that studios and their representatives at the MPAA didn’t lose the recent lobby push on the merits of their case. There was “a lot of misinformation” from Silicon Valley, he said today at a conference sponsored by All Things D. Opponents including the tech industry said that the bills giving the government the power to block overseas sites that traffic in pirated content could be misused to stifle innovation and free speech. “It became almost religious dogma,” Dauman says. He still considers the proposals to be “very reasonable”, adding that piracy “makes the standards more difficult in greenlighting a film.”
Shifting gears, Dauman says that he’s open to the idea of unbundling pay TV programming packages — especially if it means separating costly sports channels from networks such as Viacom’s MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central. “I can envision cable that doesn’t include sports programming,” he says. About half of the TV audience “never watches a sports-only network.” Even so, “over half of the cost is (for) sports, so there’s some issue there.” He’d even be open to allowing consumers to pay for individual channels “if the numbers work.” Dauman also isn’t necessarily wedded to cable and satellite companies to deliver his programming. “A lot of experimentation is taking place,” he says. “We need to compete with Netflix, to provide content to enjoy in different places.” Pay TV providers are trying to compete with digital services by offering TV Everywhere plans which give subscribers the freedom to stream programming to mobile devices. But Dauman says that it’s hard for programmers like Viacom to accept TV Everywhere terms until providers and Nielsen find a better way of measuring viewership.