NBC CEO lies to congress about Boxee block

NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker has created a bit of a hullabaloo by seemingly lying to congress about his role in forcing online streaming service, Hulu, to block open source media center Boxee.

Whilst bending congress’ ear about his firm’s efforts to become one with US cable provider, Comcast, Zucker was asked by a representative whether it was Hulu that had blocked Boxee users from access to Hulu programs. 

Mr. Zucker’s eloquent reply?

“This was a decision made by the Hulu management to, uh, what Boxee was doing was illegally taking the content that was on Hulu without any business deal. And, you know, all, all the, we have several distributors, actually many distributors of the Hulu content that we have legal distribution deals with so we don’t preclude distribution deals. What we preclude are those who illegally take that content.”

Uh huh.

In fact, Hulu were forced into blocking Boxee – a browser which happens to work on your TV – by Zucker and his lackeys at NBC.

A blog post by the Hulu team clearly demonstrated how unhappy the firm was with the decision, noting “our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee product, and we are respecting their wishes.” 

It went on to say that “the maddening part of writing this blog entry is that we realize that there is no immediate win here for users.”  

“For those Boxee users reading this post, we understand and appreciate that you’re likely to tell us that we’re nuts. Please know that we do share the same interests and won’t stop innovating in support of the bigger mission,” it concluded.

But, according to Zucker, Hulu blocked Boxee for stealing its content, even though using a browser to view live streamed content can hardly be called stealing.

Zucker also glossed over the fact he himself had been a key decision maker when it came to forcing Hulu’s hand, something he wasn’t so shy about last year in an interview where he mentioned NBC’s vision was to block Boxee and keep Hulu restricted to the online domain only.

What’s next NBC? Are you going to try to block HDMI cables too, so people can’t hook their laptops up to their television sets? Perhaps laptop makers are trying to steal Hulu’s content too? 


And a word of advice, Zucker. If you’re going to lie, at least do so consistently, otherwise you just end up sounding like a weasel.