Quoted: on Supreme Court’s decision to hear TV networks vs. Aereo

“The Aereo case could blow up the economics of the broadcast TV business. You’ll still have network television, but all the good programming will be on cable.”

John K. Hane, partner at law firm Pillsbury, on the Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case brought by TV broadcasters vs. startup Aereo. New York-based Aereo, which uses antennas to stream local broadcast TV signals online in a growing number of U.S. cities, was sued by ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, which say the company is infringing on their copyrights.  Broadcasters, which do not get paid when live TV is streamed to Aereo subscribers, have threatened to move their content exclusively to cable. The National Football League and Major League Baseball, which get a cut of retransmission fees that cable and satellite providers pay to the networks, also have big stakes in the case and have taken the networks’ side. Also watching the proceedings closely are cable and satellite providers, which are reportedly considering avoiding retransmission fees by adopting Aereo’s approach.

Aereo says its service is perfectly legal, that each online stream is a private transmission. And a couple of lower court decisions have affirmed the company’s position. But Aereo, which is backed by media mogul Barry Diller and recently secured $34 million in new funding, welcomes the Supreme Court decision to weigh in. “The broadcasters are asking the Court to deny consumers the ability to use the cloud to access a more modern-day television antenna and DVR. If the broadcasters succeed, the consequences to consumers and the cloud industry are chilling,” CEO Chet Kanojia said on the company’s blog Friday.


Photo from Bay Area News Group archives


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