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How Stations in NYC and DC Reported on the Aereo Supreme Court Arguments

Stations around the country reported last night on the Aereo Supreme Court case, which has the potential to drastically upend the television industry. Broadcasters — including NBC, ABC, Fox, CBS and Univision, which own many local stations — faced off against the streaming TV service yesterday in oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court. Here’s how stations in New York City and Washington, D.C. reported on the case.

In New York, CBS-owned WCBS reported on the case during the 5 p.m. newscast without disclosing that its parent company is involved in the lawsuit. The report included a brief explanation of Aereo’s service and a soundbite from Neal Katyal, a legal advisor to the broadcast networks. “Under copyright law, cable and satellite companies pay networks billions to deliver programming to customers,” anchor Maurice DuBois said. “Aereo does this without paying anybody.”

NBC-owned WNBC reported on Supreme Court hearings during the noon newscast and informed viewers of NBC’s involvement in the case. “The Supreme Court is hearing a challenge today to a revolutionary TV viewing app called Aereo. Broadcasters, including NBC, argue the online rebroadcast of over-the-air television is a violation of copyright,” anchor Rob Schmitt said. “They believe Aereo should pay a fee just as cable companies do. Aereo argues it’s just acting as an antennae for viewers.”

CW affiliate WPIX presented a comprehensive package about Aereo, including an explanation of the service and the legal issues in the case, as well as soundbites from lawyers representing both sides, on its 10 p.m. newscast. WPIX’s owner, Tribune Broadcasting, is not involved in the lawsuit.

ABC-owned WABC and Fox-owned WNYW made no mention of the case, according to a search of TVEyes.

As for stations in Washington, D.C.: NBC-owned WRC and Fox-owned WTTG both reported on the hearings with the disclosure that the stations’ respective parent companies are involved. ABC affiliate WJLA — owned by Albritton Communications, pending acquisition by Sinclair Broadcast Group, which are not directly involved in the lawsuit — reported briefly on the case at the top of its 6 p.m. newscast. Gannett-owned WUSA, the CBS affiliate, did not report on Aereo yesterday.

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