Call the Lawyers

Broadcast Networks, Aereo to Duke It Out Over TV Rights in Supreme Court This Summer

Finally, a decent drama debuting in the summer.

Fight time. (Photo: Aereo)

Fight time. (Photo: Aereo)

The battle between broadcast networks and Aereo is about to become must see TV.

Several networks complained that the Barry Diller-funded streaming service is threatening their bottom lines by retransmitting their signals without permission. The Supreme Court said today it will hear the broadcast networks’ case.

For $8 a month, Aereo lets users stream and record over-the-air channels in some cities by using small antennas. This angers the networks. They claim it violates copyright laws and results in theft of their content. The nets are also displeased that they don’t get paid retransmission fees similar to what they’d get from cable and satellite companies.

ABC is the lead plaintiff. CBS, Fox, NBC, Univision and PBS are also named as plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit. 

Aereo contends that its service is similar to watching television via rabbit ears and isn’t breaking any laws. 

The case, American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo Inc., could push Aereo out of business. It’s the latest in legal embroilments the company has faced from the networks and is obviously the most significant.

Some broadcast network officials are pleased by the Supreme Court’s decision. Dana McClintock, who works in the corporate communications department at CBS tweeted, “We are pleased that our case will be heard and we look forward to having our day in court.”

For Aereo’s part, CEO Chet Kinoja released a statement saying that his company has “every confidence that the Court will validate and preserve a consumer’s right to access local over-the-air television with an individual antenna, make a personal recording with a DVR, and watch that recording on a device of their choice.”

It’s expected to be deliberated this summer.

Follow Jordan Valinsky on Twitter or via RSS. jvalinsky@observer.com