Aereo streaming TV now bargaining chip in Time Warner Cable, CBS tiff

Time: 'You want 600% more for content? We'll send our boob tube addicts to Aereo'


Locked in an acrimonious retransmission-fee battle with CBS Corporation, Time Warner Cable has slipped a new arrow into its negotiation quiver, saying that if CBS blacks out its content from Time Warner's service in New York, the cable company will recommend that its subscribers sign up with the internet-streaming service Aereo.

Aereo doesn't pay retransmission fees to CBS, Fox, or other broadcast-TV companies. Instead, it uses arrays of thousands of tiny antennas to pluck the signals out of the air, then streams that programming to subscribers' PCs and Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Apple and Roku set-top boxes.

Time Warner and CBS have a July 24 deadline for their retransmission-fee negotiations – that's an extension of the June 30 expiration of their previous agreement. The negotiations have not been pleasant; CBS has launched an ad campaign in the New York area and set up a website – www.KeepCBS.com – that features a video of a big-screen TV in chains, declaring that "Time Warner is holding your favorite shows hostage."

Forbes reports that Time Warner has said CBS is demanding a 600 per cent increase in retransmission fees in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas. Needless to say, the stakes in these negotiations are high.

Now Time Warner has introduced Aereo into the battle. The broadcast streaming company is backed by billionaire media investor Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp and others – Diller also sits on Aereo's board of directors – and to call it controversial among broadcast TV players would be an understatement.

Aereo antenna array

The Aereo antenna array that's upsetting – one might say 'disrupting' – the broadcast-TV industry

Just one week before its March 14, 2012 New York launch – its first market – NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox requested an injunction to block Aereo's service in that city, claiming that the start-up didn't have the right to stream those broadcasters' copyrighted content. The court, however, denied that injunction.

The broadcasters appealed, but the New York Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them. Just last week, the court refused to rehear the broadcasters' appeal. They did, however, win the support of two judges, one of whom wrote in his dissent that "In my view, however, the system is a sham, as it was designed solely to avoid the reach of the Copyright Act and to take advantage of a perceived loophole in the law."

Aereo antenna (actual size)

Aereo antenna – actual(ish) size

While all this legal wrangling has been going on, Aereo has been steadily growing. In addition to its New York base, the service is now available in Boston and Atlanta. All of Utah's 29 counties are set for an August 19 launch, Chicago is slated to crank up on September 13, and a total of 22 US cities are planned for coverage by the end of this year.

Aereo is substantially less expensive than cable television. For $8 per month, subscribers get access to 20 hours of programming from a broad range of broadcast television content that's stored in Aereo's cloud; for $12, that amount of programming triples to 60 hours.

"We believe consumers want and deserve a better television experience and our work is focused on delivering the best customer experience with the highest quality technology," said Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia in an email on Monday announcing the upcoming Utah rollout.

Whether that "better television experience" continues to spread across the US and beyond will likely depend upon the skills of the broadcast industry's legal teams – or the powers of their lobbyists – and whether Aereo will soon see an uptick in its New York subscriber base will likely depend on the result of the negotiations now underway between CBS and Time Warner Cable. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021