CBS CEO Les Moonves.
Last year, the rhetoric surrounding the battle between television networks and TV-over-Internet company Aereo escalated to a point that would have been alarming if it weren’t so ridiculous. First the COO of News Corp. said that if Aereo were allowed to exist, it might go ahead and take the “broadcasting” out of “Fox Broadcasting,” converting to a cable channel. Weeks later, CBS CEO Les Moonves suggested his company might pursue the same strategy.
Aereo uses a scheme where it catches free over-the-air TV with tiny antennas, renting one to each user, and then transmits the TV shows over the Internet. In Aereo’s view, that allows the company to avoid paying the “retransmission fees” that cable companies pay to TV networks.
The major TV networks say it’s an illegal dodge around copyright rules, and their fight is scheduled to be argued in the Supreme Court in April. It will be the biggest copyright fight in 2014, without a doubt.
But CBS’ suggestion that Aereo is a content bandit has one very visible flaw: Aereo’s alleged victims are more profitable than ever.