Morning Media Newsfeed: Court Torn Over Aereo | Time Inc. Board Revealed | Comcast Gains Soar

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Supreme Court Justices Express Concern Over Scope of Aereo Ruling (TVNewser)
While hearing oral arguments from attorneys representing the broadcast networks and Aereo Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court justices “appeared unsure” how to rule in the case. Reuters Aereo, backed by media mogul Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp, could be forced to shut down if the court rules for the companies challenging the startup. A win for Aereo could spur innovation in the television industry by paving the way to new, cheaper ways for consumers to watch shows. A decision is due by the end of June. Bloomberg Hearing arguments Tuesday in Washington, some justices suggested they viewed Aereo as violating broadcaster copyrights by using thousands of dime-sized antennas to get over-the-air signals without paying fees. “There’s no technological reason for you to have 10,000 dime-sized antennas other than to get around the copyright laws?” Chief Justice John Roberts asked. At the same time, the hour-long hearing didn’t clearly indicate the likely outcome, as justices including Stephen Breyer repeatedly asked whether a ruling favoring the broadcasters would imperil the cloud computing business. Variety Some of the justices on Tuesday suggested that they faced a challenge in defining just what Aereo is, and drawing a line on where privately used consumer technology ends and a publicly performing service begins. The Washington Post Aereo argued that its thousands of antennas are essentially rented to subscribers of its $8-a-month service for users to pull programs from the public airwaves legally and then store in Internet server files to watch at their convenience. In that way, it is just a mediator, the company argued, with consumers in control of how they use the company’s antennas and storage files for pulling and recording programs from the airwaves. Most of the arguments, which lasted more than an hour, were focused on the justice’s queries about the definition of public and private performances in copyright law and how Aereo differs from cable, satellite and other Internet video firms that pay broadcasters retransmission and other license fees.

Time Warner Reveals Time Inc. Board (New York Post)
Time Warner revealed the full 10-member board of Time Inc. on Tuesday ahead of the planned spinoff of the publishing unit. In addition to chairman and CEO Joe Ripp, the headliners include Howard Stringer, former CEO of Sony Corp., and USA Networks founder Kay Koplovitz, who has run her own advisory firm since selling the cable channel for $4.5 billion 16 years ago. THR Stringer will be a director at Time Inc. when that company is spun out from Time Warner sometime this quarter. Ripp will be chairman of the board and eight others who also were named Tuesday will be independent directors. WSJ The board features veteran media executives with strong backgrounds in television, a sign that Ripp is hoping to diversify the magazine unit into video, among other businesses. Time Inc. is one of the country’s pre-eminent magazine publishers, led by People, which generated nearly 19 percent of Time Inc.’s revenue in 2013. Other magazine properties include Time, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly. Deadline New York In addition to Ripp, Stringer and Koplovitz, the board will consist of: Interpublic Group former CEO David Bell, National Geographic Society former CEO John Fahey, Gartner Inc. former CEO Manuel Fernandez, Tribune Co. former CEO Dennis FitzSimons, Kraft Foods former co-CEO Betsy Holden, former IBM SVP J. Randall MacDonald and former Cravath, Swaine & Moore partner Ronald Rolfe.

Comcast 1Q Net Rises 30 Percent With Gains From Sochi Olympics (Variety)
Comcast Corp., the Philadelphia cable and media giant working to convince regulators of its suitability to buy Time Warner Cable, said Tuesday its first quarter net income soared 30 percent, largely from gains made by its NBCUniversal broadcasts of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Deadline New York The broadcast operation led the way with a 72.8 percent boost in revenues to $2.6 billion — but still would have been up 17 percent without the games due to a 15.8 percent increase in ad sales from NBC’s improved ratings. Cable network revenue increased 12.6 percent to $2.5 billion, but would have been up just 1 percent without the Olympics. WSJ The announcement also brought news of talks that Charter Communications Inc. could acquire nearly four million extra subscribers in a two-stage deal under discussion with Comcast, in what would represent a consolation prize for Charter’s nearly yearlong pursuit of Time Warner Cable Inc. NYT Comcast also announced that it added 24,000 paying television subscribers in Q1, a modest increase but notable because most other providers are losing thousands of subscribers each quarter. More Americans are becoming so-called cord cutters, abandoning their pricey cable subscriptions in favor of cheaper online offerings from services like Aereo, Hulu and Netflix. By adding video subscribers for the second quarter in a row, Comcast bolstered its argument that it provides a high-quality product that consumers are willing to pay for.