The ABC v. Aereo case coming up to the Supreme Court is a very intriguing case. It could really revolutionize the television industry.
Lord knows the big networks need some shaking up. Their programming these days is, what? 50% police shows, 40% "reality" shows, 9% sports and 1% "news". But even the news is nothing but crime and celebrity, or celebrities committing crimes. I mean, have you watched any network TV lately? P.U.
What I would like to see is a system whereby the consumer could pay for ONLY those channels they choose to watch, and that includes broadcast and "narrowcast" e.g. cable channels.
A Tiny Antenna Threatens the TV Networks’ Airspace
Chet Kanojia and Aereo Seek to Shake Up Television Industry
When the case of American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo comes before the Supreme Court in April, it will feature two American archetypes in a battle that could upend the television industry.
In one corner will be broadcast networks like ABC, NBC and CBS, powerful companies that have been fixtures in American living rooms for decades, and the conduit for collective national experiences like presidential elections, walks on the moon and the Super Bowl.
In the other corner is Chet Kanojia, a 43-year-old immigrant from India, who as an outsider saw a system that most took for granted and who knew he could build a better mousetrap, or at least a different one. Aereo, Mr. Kanojia’s two-year-old company, has figured out how to grab over-the-air television signals and stream them to subscribers on the Internet. It is an invention that could topple titans.
The titans know it. Intent on maintaining a system that provides billions in revenue annually, the networks have been fighting Aereo in court almost since its inception, claiming the service was stealing their content. This month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
Its decision will have far-reaching implications for a television industry already in upheaval, facing challenges from online streaming, Internet-enabled TVs, ad-skipping devices and, now, the tiny antennas that Aereo uses to capture broadcast signals.
Content companies have a decidedly different perspective, of course. For a monthly subscription that starts at $8, Aereo allows subscribers to watch or record broadcast television through the Internet on any device, small or large, no wires or cable boxes required. It does this by assigning each consumer a remote antenna and a DVR.
To entertainment companies, this is cheating. Copyright law lets individuals watch anything they pick up by antennas as long as it is for their private use, but the broadcasters say Aereo’s transmissions constitute a “public performance” that requires Aereo to pay for retransmitting them. Aereo, they claim, is violating copyright and stealing their content.
The networks’ concern goes beyond Aereo. If the streaming service wins in court, networks fear that the cable and satellite companies that currently pay them huge retransmission fees might follow Aereo’s lead, a situation broadcasters say would destroy their bottom line.
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