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Fate of online broadcast TV is in the hands of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to resolve a dispute between television broadcasters and Aereo, an Internet start-up that the broadcasters say threatens the economic viability of their businesses. Aereo uses an array of small antennas to stream over-the-air television signals to subscribers, allowing them to watch programs on their smartphones and computers.

The Supreme Court today agreed to weigh into a legal thicket that, at the end of the day, will shape the manner and method by which people watch broadcast television. The justices, without comment, decided to hear a controversy over a two-year-old upstart called Aereo. Using thousands of dime-sized antennas, it retransmits over-the-air broadcast television to paying consumers, who are able to watch live television online without the consent of NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, Fox and other broadcasters who brought a lawsuit in 2012.

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