CBS is joining the Fox network in threatening to take its broadcasts off the airwaves if Internet startup Aereo continues to pick up their over-the-air signal and sell it to consumers devices without paying for rights.
The threats follow a court’s decision last week upholding Aereo’s rights to stream broadcast TV to Internet-connected devices without paying retransmission fees. Broadcasters including CBS, Fox, NBC, and ABC had filed suit against Aereo for infringing on their copyrights.
“If we can’t get our rights protected, we will pursue business solutions to take our network and turn it into a subscription service,” Chase Carey, chief operations officer for Fox’s parent company, News Corp., said on Monday.
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Viewers who receive Fox’s broadcast over the airwaves would have to pay a subscription fee. Cable and satellite subscribers would still receive the feed. Cable and satellite companies typically pay TV stations and networks for the right to distribute their programming to subscribers.
On Tuesday, CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves told The New York Times that he “wholeheartedly supported what Chase said,” and disclosed that his network had held talks with cable operators about taking its signal off the air.
“For now, we’re talking about the New York-Connecticut area,” Moonves added — the only area where Aereo now operates. The company has plans to expand to nearly two dozen cities, however.
Haim Saban, chairman of the Spanish-language network Univision, said on Monday that his network would also consider converting to a cable-only service.
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