Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

NFL, MLB Tell Supreme Court: If Aereo Wins, We’re Bailing on Broadcast

mark-sanchezProgrammers that are fighting with Aereo, the Web TV service, have already threatened to move their shows from free broadcast TV to paid cable TV if Aereo wins its court battle.

Now the guys that sell sports are chiming in. If Aereo wins, say goodbye to Saturday night baseball or Sunday afternoon football on broadcast TV, said Major League Baseball and the National Football League.

The sports leagues lobbed a “friend of the court” brief to the Supreme Court last week, asking the court to take up the case, which pits broadcast station owners and programmers against Aereo, the IAC-backed startup that distributes broadcast signals over the Web, but doesn’t pay for them.

The leagues, of course, want the court to rule against Aereo. If it doesn’t, “the option for copyright holders will be to move that content to paid cable networks (such as ESPN and TNT) where Aereo-like services cannot hijack and exploit their programming without authorization,” the MLB and NFL’s lawyers wrote.

It’s unclear just how fast the leagues could unwind their programming deals with broadcasters in the event of an Aereo victory — and whether lawmakers would let them.

On the other hand, the threat isn’t completely idle, since Big Time Sports have already been moving from broadcast to cable for years. For instance: If you want to watch the Patriots and the Panthers tonight, you’ll need to be in front of a TV (or tablet) connected to ESPN.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik