On the eve of the most significant media case in years before the Supreme Court, the high court has granted a request from the Deputy Solicitor General to argue in support of broadcasters who have sued streaming service Aereo. The broadcasters — ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX — will cede federal lawyers 10 minutes of their allotted 30 minutes. Aereo will also have 30 minutes to argue its case tomorrow.
Speaking on the phone on Thursday, Mr. Kanojia said he liked his facts but had no idea how things would play out. “It’s a bit of a coin flip,” he said. A lot of people will be watching to see how that coin lands, less because of what it means for Aereo specifically than what it portends for the broader media ecosystem. A decision is expected this summer.
I spent time in Hollywood last week chatting with various executives, and Aereo was described variously as “a fencing operation peddling stolen goods” and “thieves masquerading as innovators.” That’s about as friendly as it got: Aereo may be small — [Barry] Diller called it “a pimple” — but it represents something mighty important. If Aereo is allowed to store and transmit signals without payment, the television industry will be profoundly reconfigured.
Kanojia also appeared on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” this weekend. TVSpy has the video.
We’ll be breaking down the arguments in the Aereo case with U.S. Law Week managing editor Tom Taylor, Internet attorney Tim Bukher and BIA/Kelsey chief economist Mark Fratrik at the TVNewser Show next Tuesday. Click here for more information and to register.