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Aereo, Comcast Presidents Sound Off on TV’s Future

WASHINGTON—In a recent PBS Newshour segment, the CEOs of Aereo and Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator debated about the future of television.

Aereo CEO Che Kanojia defended the New York-based startup, which retransmits broadcast signals over tiny antenna arrays for streaming to subscriber’s devices. The service has expanded beyond New York to other areas including Boston, Atlanta and the western U.S. The company is the subject of several lawsuits by station groups and so far, has seen two courts decide in its favor.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, whose company owns NBCUniversal, differed with Kanojia over Aereo’s premise, drawing parallels with the recent retrans battle between CBS and Time Waner Cable. “There is a law that says you have to get the consent of that broadcaster before you can retransmit their signal,” Roberts said. “And that's what CBS Time Warner was all about that, that CBS retransmission fee. So here comes a company that says, I don't want to pay that fee. Well, I understand that, but I don't think that's the law of the land.”

Watch or read the transcript of the segment here.