October 28, 2020

Bloomberg: If Aereo wins in court, cable companies might buy it or build clones


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aereochenbotBy Richard Lawler From engadget

While TV broadcasters like CBS and Fox continue their legal battle against Aereo and its leased microantenna-to-internet streaming scheme, Bloomberg reports cable companies are watching more closely than ever. Since they’re currently paying retrans fees for a lot of the same content networks broadcast over the air (and that Aereo is catching, then streaming to its subscribers on various devices — web browser, Roku, Apple TV via AirPlay, iOS and most recently Android) if Aereo wins, they might see it as a way out of deals said to be worth billions of dollars over the years. Specifically, the usual unnamed sources name Time Warner Cable, Charter and DirecTV as candidates to build their own versions of the technology, with TWC mentioned as considering a purchase of the company.

One thing that could complicate any potential end run however, is the fact that said broadcasters also own a number of cable channels. CBS has Showtime (as seen during its showdown with Time Warner Cable earlier this year), Fox has Fox Sports, FX, FXX and more, ABC brings ESPN and Disney to the table and Comcast-owned NBC attaches USA, Syfy and a few others to its umbrella. Time Warner Cable namechecked Aereo during its dispute with CBS, while Fox’s CEO threatened to make the channel pay-TV only if it can’t get the service shut down. For now though, the lawsuits still fly back and forth and Aereo’s footprint continues to expand, if this ever means your cable bill might shrink a bit then we’ll let you know.

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Aereo to the Supreme Court

By Terrence O’Brien From engadget

Fox may have been making an empty threat when it said it would go the paid TV route, if Aereo continued to stream its content online. But, that doesn’t mean the broadcasters were just going to stomp their feet and let the start up carry on with it’s plans to expand its streaming and cloud DVR offerings. Today, a group that includes not only Fox, but ABC, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, PBS and CBS petitioned the Supreme Court to hear their case. Lower courts have refused to grant an injunction against Aereo, completely tossing out claims of unfair competition en route to the steps of the Supreme Court.

The broadcasters’ case relies on convincing judges that streaming terrestrial television signals qualifies as a “public performance,” and as such is a violation of the Copyright Act. Aereo counters that its thousands of antennas that are assigned to each subscriber are no different than a consumer going out and purchasing an antenna themselves. Essentially, they’re claiming that customers aren’t paying so much for the stream itself, as the antenna and the location where it’s mounted. Much of Aereo’s case is built upon a precedent set in 2008, when Cablevision won a case regarding its remote DVR service.

Of course, the companies will have to convince the Supreme Court to hear its case in the first place. The 209 page petition (which you can read here) lays out its case and asks the highest court in our nation to make a decision whether or not the rebroadcast is, in fact, a public performance. It might be sometime before we know whether or not Chief Justice Roberts and crew will listen to arguments from the parties concerned, but rest assured we’ll be watching this story closely.

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