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Will Aereo Revolutionize Broadcast TV, or Kill It?

Posted By Patrick Kiger On April 21, 2014 @ 7:12 pm In The Download | Comments Disabled

On April 22, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a lawsuit [1] that some think will determine the future of television – or, at the very least, whether you can watch local TV news and broadcast channels over the Internet, without having to buy a cable TV subscription.

Aereo logo [2]The case involves Aereo [3], a two-year-old New York-based start-up that offers a new way to watch TV. Aereo captures signals from broadcast TV stations on banks of antennas located close to the towers, and then streams the programming to a browser window or mobile app, in a fashion similar to Netflix. (You can also view with a regular TV set, if you have a Roku [4] device.)

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The service, which is available so far in 11 U.S. cities, starts at $8 a month and allows you to digitally record and store up to 20 hours of programming in the cloud as well. (For $12, you can record one channel while watching another, and store 60 hours of shows.) One catch is that you can only log in and watch while you’re in your own metropolitan coverage area, so you can’t keep up on local news while you’re traveling.

“Aereo’s technology is simply a smarter, more sophisticated antenna for the 21st century,” company spokesperson Virginia Lam explained in an interview back in January.

Here’s a Bloomberg News segment about Aereo. YouTube Preview Image [6]

But TV broadcasters, who aren’t getting a cut of Aereo’s fees, see this as piracy, which is why they’re suing in an effort to stop it. “We’re not against technology,” explained National Association of Broadcasters [7] spokesman Dennis Wharton, who says the big networks and local TV stations are looking into ways to provide more programming online themselves. “What we are against is theft of content.”

Aereo’s position is that what it does is perfectly legal, because it’s merely providing a means for individual viewers to see programming that broadcasters already are giving away. The company is counting on the court to use the same logic as it did in 1984, when it ruled in the Sony Betamax case [8] that it was OK for consumers to videotape TV shows and watch them later.

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That 30-year-old precedent might also be significant because broadcasters also warned then that allowing video recording might have similarly dire consequences for the entertainment industry. Motion Picture Association of America President Jack Valenti, for example, told Congress [10] that the Betamax would turn Hollywood into “a kind of a jungle, where this one unlicensed instrument is capable of devouring all that people had invested in and labored over and brought forth as a film or a television program.”

But Hollywood is still around today, and there’s reason to believe that the broadcast networks would survive Aereo as well. Last week, CBS chief executive Les Moonves, who once talked of pulling his network from the airwaves [11] and moving to cable if Aereo won in court, shifted to saying that the network might instead start streaming its own programming [12] over the Internet.

 

Also of Interest

 

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Article printed from AARP: http://blog.aarp.org

URL to article: http://blog.aarp.org/2014/04/21/will-aereo-revolutionize-broadcast-tv-or-kill-it/

URLs in this post:

[1] lawsuit: http://www.supremecourt.gov/Search.aspx?FileName=/docketfiles/13-461.htm

[2] Image: http://blog.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Aereo_logo.png

[3] Aereo: https://www.aereo.com/

[4] Roku: http://www.roku.com/

[5] >> Sign up for the AARP Money newsletter: http://www.aarp.org/online-community/people/subscribeFromEmail.action?id=29636&intcmp=ILC-EMAIL-SUB-MONY

[6] Image: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3SJ4zWqxsA

[7] National Association of Broadcasters: http://www.nab.org/

[8] Sony Betamax case: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/integrity/Links/Cases/sony.html

[9] >> Get discounts on financial services with your AARP Member Advantages.: http://www.aarpfinancial.com/content/aarpfinancial/home.html?intcmp=AE-BL-MON-DISC

[10] told Congress: http://cryptome.org/hrcw-hear.htm

[11] pulling his network from the airwaves: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130501/19380322911/cbs-says-it-could-move-to-cable-few-days-if-aereo-wins-receives-several-offers-to-help-pack-its-bags.shtml

[12] streaming its own programming: http://mashable.com/2014/03/28/cbs-les-moonves-aereo/

[13] ‘Heartbleed’ Heartburn: Time to Change Your Passwords!: http://blog.aarp.org/2014/04/09/heartbleed-heartburn-time-to-change-your-passwords-2/?intcmp=AE-ENDART1-BL-REL

[14] 9 Nasty Things to Throw Away Today: http://blog.aarp.org/2014/04/09/heartbleed-heartburn-time-to-change-your-passwords-2/?intcmp=AE-ENDART2-BL-BOS

[15] Fight fraud and ID theft with the AARP Fraud Watch Network.: http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network/?intcmp=AE-BL-ENDART-ADV-FWN

[16] Join AARP: https://appsec.aarp.org/MSS/join/application?keycode=U9ZTPH9&intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-MEM

[17] AARP home page: http://www.aarp.org/?intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-HP

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