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NFL, MLB Urge U.S. Supreme Court Look at Aereo TV

18 Nov, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Lawyers for the National Football League and Major League Baseball have filed “friends of the court” petitions urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take ongoing litigation against Aereo TV — the subscription service that allows users to watch over-the-air digital broadcasts on portable devices.

The professional leagues say that should Aereo TV prevail, they would move all network broadcasts, including Sunday Night Football, to cable and satellite.

Broadcasters’ ongoing litigation against Aereo TV claims the New York-based service violates retransmissions agreements and copyrights since the digital transmissions circumvent multichannel video program distributors.

“If copyright holders lose their exclusive retransmission licensing rights and the substantial benefits derived from those rights when they place programming on broadcast stations, those stations will become less attractive mediums for distributing copyrighted content,” the NFL and MLB stated in their briefs. “The option for copyright holders will be to move that content to paid cable networks where Aereo-like services cannot hijack and exploit their programming without authorization.”

The leagues’ lawyers argue that intervention by the nation’s top court is necessary in order to “restore clarity” and prevent the “unraveling” of a marketplace predicated on the licensing of content to third parties. 21st Century Fox COO Chase Carey has said that should Aereo prevail, Fox Broadcasting would switch to pay-TV, a sentiment echoed by CBS CEO Les Moonves.

The Supreme Court has made no decision whether it will hear the case, which, if it did, wouldn’t occur until 2015 at the earliest.

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