SBD/Closing Bell

Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Redistributive TV Service Aereo

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The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the Aereo case this morning and is expected to hand down a decision within months. Aereo uses antennas to redistribute broadcast signals via the Internet for a small monthly fee. Because Aereo does not pay retransmission consent fees, broadcasters (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) want it shut down. A lower court ruling sided with Aereo, and it is difficult to tell how the Supreme Court justices feel about the case. During questioning, news reports describe several of the justices as seeming uneasy about the service, with Chief Justice John Roberts saying that Aereo's model "is based solely on circumventing legal prohibitions that you don't want to comply with."

However, the same news reports suggested that several justices were worried that a broad ruling against Aereo could hurt other technologies, like cloud computing. Outside the courthouse, Aereo's Counsel David Frederick said, "We're confident, cautiously optimistic, based on the way the hearing went today." Broadcasters have said that a ruling in favor of Aereo would threaten billions of dollars of retransmission consent revenue that it uses to buy sports rights. The NFL and MLB have sided with the broadcasters, saying that an Aereo win could mean the end of live sports on broadcast television.
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