ABC shows on iTunes causing waves in TV business

Apple may have “helped open a Pandora’s box for the media business” by making television shows available for download on iTunes. The Wall Street Journal reports [paid sub. req.] that Apple and its first TV partner, Walt Disney/ABC, have “taken a potentially significant step in the dismantling of a decades-old system for distributing TV programming to viewers, a move that could have profound long-term consequences for broadcasters, cable systems and satellite companies if more users download shows instead of watching them the old-fashioned way.”

Apple’s deal with Disney is “already causing waves in the TV business,” with Leon Long, the president of the association representing ABC’s affiliate stations, expressing his concern to ABC executives. “It is both disappointing and unsettling that ABC would embark on a new—and competitive—network program distribution partnership without the fundamental courtesy of consultation” with its affiliates, Long said in a letter to the president of the ABC network. Meanwhile, the unions that represent TV show writers, producers, directors and actors issued a joint statement last week saying, “We look forward to a dialogue that ensures our members are properly compensated for this exploitation of their work.”

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