Petkov: Power to the People…’s Republic

Petkov: Power to the People...s Republic

Antonio Petkov, Columnist

It seems endorsing endeavors that will come back to haunt us is an enduring part of our national character. This time, I’m not referring to backing the mujahideen, Pinochet or Saddam Hussein, although those are the staples of my fatuous political diatribes.

Future TV, one of seven firms streaming media to Chinese homes via the Internet and Smart TVs, has been giving Hollywood a bit of a headache due to their evasion of tens of millions of dollars in licensing fees and uploading copyrighted films. Ironically, one of the organizations originally willing to back Future TV when it was a startup was the Motion Picture Association of America. Since then, it has become apparent that Future is not really a startup, given that its largest shareholders are China’s official state-run television provider, Tencent Holdings, and Xiaomi Corp. Tencent is the No. 1 Internet provider in China, and Xiaomi Corp is Apple’s chief rival in China when it comes to the sale of mid-priced smartphones. Conveniently, Xiaomi sells cheap set top boxes ($50) which stream free content. Another conflict of interest arises when we examine Tencent’s deals with both Disney and Future TV regarding streaming content, despite Disney’s claims that Future TV has not paid to use much of Disney’s content. 

Instead of blacklisting China though, Hollywood has responded to this activity by actively pursuing China as a market, even arousing suspicion from the Securities and Exchange Commission as to whether executives bribed Chinese government officials for gain market access.Antonio Petkov is a McCormick freshman. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].