Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Supreme Court Case Could Change How You Watch TV

NPR reports:
Bruce Springsteen may have been ahead of his times with his song "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)," released in 1992. These days there are hundreds of channels, and whether you like it or not, you get most of them in your basic cable package. On Tuesday, that economic model is being challenged in the Supreme Court in a high-stakes legal battle between the broadcast television networks and a tiny startup, or at least tiny by broadcast standards.

The issues focus on copyright law, but the outcome could alter the face of broadcasting in the United States.

The startup, Aereo Inc., is just 3 years old but is already making money, offering consumers in 11 cities a cheap way to watch local stations that deliver network TV shows as well as local programming. The company contends it is innovating to give people a choice both in how they watch TV and how much they pay for it. The networks contend that the startup is using a gimmick to thwart the economic vitality of their business.

So serious is the economic threat that two major networks, CBS and Fox, have said they would consider abandoning over-the-air free broadcasting if they lose, and instead broadcast only on pay cable channels. And the NFL and Major League Baseball have similarly threatened to abandon broadcasting on free local channels.
You'll want to read this one.