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Broadcasters Ready Their 'Plan B' in Case the Supreme Court Rules for Aereo WSJ

The country’s top broadcasters are weighing their options if the Supreme Court rules in favor of online streaming service Aereo, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The case will be heard by the high court April 22, with the broadcasters alleging that Aereo is stealing their content. Aereo counters that it’s just helping consumers get the free broadcast television they have a right to watch.

Aereo uses small antennas that capture broadcasters’ feeds and then transmits them individually to customers’ Internet-connected devices.

Broadcasters are optimistic the court will decide in their favor, but are still making plans in case the court rules for Aereo.

“Plan B options under consideration range from lobbying Congress for a legislative solution to perhaps thwarting Aereo by shifting to cable transmission from broadcast,” the WSJ piece notes.

The most radical plan so far was proposed by CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves, who has suggested the network could offer its own version of Aereo if the broadcasters lose. “Mr. Moonves hasn't provided details, but a person familiar with the situation said CBS has the ability to launch a service that would stream its programming over the Web simultaneously with its television broadcasts,” the story notes.

CBS would show ads and charge a few dollars per month, and could also include the company’s premium network Showtime for a higher fee. The story adds: “CBS would use technology company Syncbak, in which it owns a minority stake, to power streaming of local TV stations' signals over the Web, the person said.”

Broadcasters could also lobby Congress for measures to curb Aereo, such as adding a provision in a satellite-TV bill, but that’s considered unlikely to happen, the piece reports.

The networks could also effectively become cable networks, although that would present problems to affiliate stations that broadcast network programming.

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