Competition heats up in broadcasting industry

JORDAN DEN HERDER
BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT

A young broadcasting company has started using a revolutionized way for its customers to watch television. Via small antennae and a cloud storage system, Aereo provides its customers with 30 plus channels of HD quality that can be viewed or recorded from any location at a very low monthly subscription fee. The antenna captures TV signals and streams the feed through a customer’s activated mobile or stationary device.

This has caught the attention of future customers; unlike competitors such as Netflix or Apple TV, Aereo can tune into local stations. This requires an Internet connection, something that could be a hindrance to certain consumers. Another downside is that it is only currently available in certain cities, such as New York, Boston and Miami, though Aereo predicts more cities will be added to its grid soon. Despite these good things, it is possible that no one will get to use Aereo’s innovative technology.

Many love the cheap and easy access to various channels and networks, but the question if it will last. The American Broadcasting Company (ABC), representing big media companies, is Aereo for illegal use of its programs, essentially for showing ABC’s shows without permission and having to pay royalties for them, violating the Copyright Act. Aereo’s argument against the accusation is that the antenna that customers control gives them the right to view the shows, and that it is in a totally legitimate way.

During a one-hour-long, oral hearing April 22, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts disagreed with Aereo, claiming “no reason for you to have 10,000 dime-sized antennas except to get around the Copyright Act.” Not all the Justices were so blatant, most were more inquisitive and open-minded. But there was no clear indication of how the controversy would be decided.

Despite certain blows during the hearing, defense attorney David Frederick stated that he felt “confident, cautiously optimistic, based on the way the hearing went today that the Court understood that a person watching over-the-air broadcast television in his or her home is engaging in a private performance and not a public performance that would implicate the Copyright Act.”

With nine Justices in the Court, there is no chance for Aereo to win the case via tie, but it is still possible for either side to gain the upper hand.

Contact the writer:
jordan.herder@scranton.edu

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