TV Belongs to the People, Not ABC

Barry Diller explains why Aereo is legal
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2014 1:30 PM CDT
TV Belongs to the People, Not ABC
This file image provided by Aereo shows a screenshot from an iPad of streaming 'Bob the Builder' on New York's PBS station WNET 13.   (AP Photo/Aereo)

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear ABC v. Aereo, in which the venerable broadcast network will argue that Aereo—a pay service that lets customers stream network TV content to any device they want—is piracy. "This, quite simply, goes against everything the broadcast industry has agreed to over the past 100 years," writes Aereo investor Barry Diller in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today. Broadcasters are essentially arguing that they own the airwaves—and the Obama administration is inexplicably siding with them.

Back in the 1920s, broadcasters struck a deal with the government: They'd get free use of the nation's airwaves, and in exchange provide free, ad-supported programming. They've earned billions on that model. Aereo, Diller argues, is just a remote antenna sending those programs to consumers over the cloud—and shouldn't be treated any differently than a pair of rabbit ears. By opposing it, Obama is saying "that the preservation of legacy business models takes precedence over lawful technological innovation." Click for his full column. Or to read about how Fox has threatened to leave the public spectrum entirely if Aereo prevails. (More Barry Diller stories.)

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