TV’s future is about to be decided by U.S. Supreme Court

“A landmark case is about to be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court that could affect most Americans in their daily lives,” Nat Worden writes for MarketWatch. “The outcome of the case will dictate how much our cable or satellite service costs, and it could influence how we watch everything from ‘Modern Family’ to the Oscars, the World Series and the Super Bowl.”

“The case pits the major U.S. broadcast networks, and their corporate parents like CBS, ABC’s Disney, FOX’s News Corp. and NBC’s Comcast against a small, privately held start-up called Aereo,” Worden writes. “If Aereo loses, it goes away — kaput. But if it wins, the entire media and entertainment industry could be transformed.”

MacDailyNews Note: Strike that, reverse it. It’s not “ABC’s Disney.” ABC is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company.

“Aereo, launched in 2012 and available in a handful of cities, provides online access to broadcast TV shows by leasing a cloud-based HD antenna to each of its individual subscribers starting at $8 a month. The antennas, which receive free over-the-air broadcast signals, are connected to DVRs and high-speed Internet connections, allowing subscribers to watch live TV streams and time-shifted programming online,” Worden writes. “if Aereo succeeds in making broadcast TV content easily available to consumers online without a traditional pay-TV subscription like cable or satellite, the consumer trend toward dropping such subscriptions in favor of online video alternatives like Netflix, Amazon, Apple’s iTunes and Google’s YouTube could accelerate.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If Aereo wins, Apple wins.

Related articles:
US federal court suspends Aereo internet TV service in several states – February 20, 2014
By putting over-the-air online legally, Aereo clears the way for all TV everywhere – April 10, 2013
Apple is a winner in the Aereo online TV ruling, for now – July 12, 2012


  1. I hope Aereo wins this battle. I remember, in the 1990s with DirecTV, being able to get out of market locals. That is until that judge in Florida (Miami, I believe) pretty much shut down that bit of fun for consumers. The judge decided that because, let’s say, I was in Las Vegas and wanted to watch locals from New York, I would be irreparably harming local advertising by not watching my locals in Las Vegas. I could still subscribe to out of market newspapers — and read their ads instead of my local ads in Vegas — but that was just fine.

  2. If Aereo doesn’t win, does that mean there’s a promising young innovator looking for work? I know where there ought to be an opening pretty soon. Actually, now.

  3. If you want to predict who’s going to win this case, simply look to see who pays lobbyists the most money. That’s how it works these days.

    If Aereo haven’t paid enough money into the lobbyist’s protection racket, they won’t have a chance.

    1. It appears you are catering to the cynics to score points and have very little faith in the underdog. Fox was an underdog trying to muscle in on the other three Networks and they prevailed.

      It’s in the hands of the SCOTUS and lobbyists no longer factor. This case by-passed the legislature, where lobbyists play a strong role in defeating those who challenge the status quo.

      It now comes down to precedent and good lawyers. If Aero were to win, then the regulations would probably set a precedent for which their would be legislation. That’s where the lobbyists factor in.

      1. I’m not trying to score points. It’s just I’ve been around too long to believe that the legal system delivers fair verdicts and I’ve noticed how lobbying has become increasingly prevalent.

        Time will tell if my expectation will come true or whether yours will.

    1. I would agree that was true if there were equal scrutiny of both parties, but the scrutiny by the media is heavily slanted towards examining Republicans and against scrutinizing Democrats. So, no the corruption is not the same on both sides.

      1. Precisely!

        I predict if the media scrutiny was reversed, the dem-progs would own the corruption title.

        But it will not happen while the baby boomers run the U.S. media hiring employees that vote Dem 80-90% of the time.

        Every time I hear the media evoking pious platitudes of fairness, cruel joke aside, I have to laugh …

  4. Ah, free market capitalism … alive and well until a disruptive innovator actually threatens entrenched business interests with deep pockets and influence in high places … then they all go screaming to the government for relief. Change your model boys or die.

    1. Interesting in that a think tank recently looked at whether they could define the U.S. as being a capitalist country and guess what?

      They found that the U.S. has to be classed as an oligarchy.

      Moneyed lobbyists, mostly ex-gov’t insiders, getting their huge sums from corporations and rich individuals are the ones who decide what happens in major laws.

      What’s more, the % of income of the GDP that goes to the wealthiest citizens keeps going up even in good times & bad. This is what an oligarchy is supposed to do, protect the rich.

  5. Sorry, MDN, I think you need to re-read the article’s line that you take offence to. It says, “It pits … networks, and their corporate ABC’s Disney” As in, Disney is the corporate parent of ABC.

    1. Glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed that. Their admittedly awkward phrasing implies that they are saying ABC’s corporate parent Disney, FOX’s corporate parent News Corp. and NBC’s corporate parent Comcast.

  6. Nice seeing many of the comments aligning with my viewpoint.
    if recent decisions serve as precedents, the SCOTUS decision will fall in favor of the elitist, exclusionist, and most monied interest.

  7. Great things come out of Brooklyn. Pfizer, NYU School of Engineering, Makerbot, Jackie Gleason, the Roller Coaster, via Coney Island, The Historic Dodgers, Nathan;s Hot docks , Junior’s Cheesecake, bank credit cards, The Nets, Aereo, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Janet Yellen
    Even Hollywood started in Brooklyn (known as Vaudeville) only real blight of history is that the Abortion industry started there.

  8. Back when cable first appeared, they were mandated to offer local stations as part of their basic service. Today, (well, Comcast), does not offer unencrypted local stations (which may well be accessible using a simple antenna) and does not offer the entire range of stations that are available. The FCC threw down the towel on this regulation. Aereo stepped in, and is, in all respects, restoring this mandate. More power to them.

    1. Actually Aero just found a way to screw broadcasters out of retransmission fees. If the SCOTUS upholds their business model then there is nothing to keep cable companies from doing the same thing.

      In the long run it will be local broadcasters that will be hit with loss of revenue. Enjoy!

    2. Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences. The problem is that local broadcasters can only broadcast “for free” if they can sell commercials. If everyone is time shifting and skipping the ads, ad prices will drop like a rock. The stations have been compensating for the lost revenue by collecting rebroadcast fees from the pay-TV services on satellite, cable, and fiber.

      If Aereo wins, many customers will drop the local channels from their cable packages, but will continue to skip the commercials. To win them back with cheaper service, the cable and satellite carriers may need to build Aereo-style antenna arrays. Alternatively, they may just drop the local channels. Either way, the local stations and networks will suffer a huge hit to both their advertising and retransmission fee revenue streams.

      Except for PBS, these are all for-profit businesses that cannot operate for long at a loss. Many smaller markets have already reached the point where some of the local stations are barely hanging on. If they go broke, those channels will simply go dark. Nobody is going to enter the business without a viable business model. Free TV will vanish over much of the country.

      Even if all the viewers could afford the move to streaming video, the national broadband infrastructure isn’t robust enough to absorb all that traffic. Imagine millions of 3-TV homes trying to watch HD programming simultaneously. Rural and even suburban areas already have terrible speeds.

      There would also be an impact on the cable industry if the broadcast networks crater. Those channels provide a mass audience that subsidises the shows with a narrow audience. If every program had to carry its own weight, news, educational programming, and even scripted dramas would likely be priced out of a market dominated by reality shows. Remember when A&E ran arts & entertainment programming, SyFy ran science fiction, and MTV was music television? When the news channels were mostly newscasts? That could get a lot worse without the revenue streams from the broadcast networks.

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