Slingbox is legal but Aereo isn’t?

Aereo doesn't work anymore...
Aereo doesn’t work anymore…

The Supreme Court ruled that Aereo is illegal, and violated copyright laws.  The winning argument was that Aereo was rebroadcasting broadcast TV over the Internet without the permission of those stations.

However, since Slingbox, which has been around for a decade is legal, and Aereo is not, I am confused.

Slingbox is a device that plugs into a cable box (and or TV antenna) and broadband router, and lets people watch that broadcast content over the Internet.

Theoretically, one could rent an apartment or hotel, pay for Internet access and a TV antenna, plug it into a router, and never actually live there, yet have live broadcast TV over the Internet.  Essentially, that’s how Aereo was run.

However, since such a service was designed to serve many customers, the Supreme Court classified Aereo in the same level as a cable provider, and would have to pay cable companies fees that they successfully negotiate with each other (not a sure thing), if they want to continue to exist.

So, Aereo-like services are now only legal (for now), if they are private.  I guess I need a device like Simple TV if I want to stream broadcast TV to my Roku and mobile devices…

Why I don’t a TV station.

UHF, the Weird Al movie

One of my childhood dreams was to own a broadcast TV station.  I fantasized about being like Weird Al’s character in the 80s movie “UHF”, where he runs a TV station of independent programming, that the community loves, and fights to keep in the air.  I said that I can make my own station and program my own game shows, sports highlights and interview programs.  Sure!

However, here in 2014, broadcast TV (and radio) in my home country is a money pit that was created by overregulation by the government.  At least that’s my opinion.  Most stations are parts of large station groups and are affiliated with a broadcast network.

The airwaves are owned, in the United States by the public.  Not the owners of the broadcast TV stations, but the public.  However, I have learned from my own college professors in the communications department at SUNY Plattsburgh that the lobbying power of businesses have continuously taken that control for themselves.  The “public” airwaves have been controlled by private interests, and they pay like crazy to keep it that way.

However, the Internet, and high speed broadband has created a new level of media ownership.  Services like Netflix and Hulu (and YouTube and UStream, among others) have bypassed broadcast and cable to bring content to your home.  Or Laptop.  Or phone.  Or tablet.

One of my goals of being a comm professor is to inspire students to become the creators of their own shows, and perhaps the owners of their own channels.