Broadcast Networks May Use the FCC to Beat Aereo and Make Billions Doing It

By Kevin Eck Comment

The FCC’s upcoming incentive auctions may be the weapon broadcasters are looking for in their fight against Aereo, the upstart company using over-the-air signals to sell content to consumers on the cheap.

One theory being floated says the threats by CBS and FOX to pull their networks off the air may not be so far fetched. Selling off spectrum would accomplish two goals: it would bring in billions to broadcasters while they stick it to Aereo by denying them the very root of their service, over-the-air signals. The Verge has more details on the idea that may make Aereo the game changer it promises to be, just not in the way it intended.

Conveniently, CBS directly owns 29 stations, most in major markets, while Fox parentNews Corporation owns 27. Every station sits on a lucrative license to regional spectrum that it uses to broadcast its signal. By submitting those licenses to the FCC’s auction, these networks would stand to see a windfall, shutting the door on Aereo (which relies on over-the-air signals to collect its source content) in the process. Meanwhile, American households that rely entirely on over-the-air television — a recent GfK report estimates them at 17.8 percent of the viewing public — would be the pawns in the game.