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Aereo makes it tempting to give someone else money for something that’s already free

This is possibly the dumbest thing I have ever read – at least today.

“Its channel selection is limited to 29 over-the-air channels and Bloomberg TV. It doesn’t include the other cable networks I frequently watch. … A day pass costs $1 and gives you 10 days to watch up to three hours of recorded shows. You can pay $8 a month for unlimited live viewing and 20 hours of storage, or $12 for 40 hours. Or you can pay $80 for a full year and 40 hours. That annual price is less than what I pay my cable company for TV each and every month. It’s a great deal for people who mostly watch broadcast television and not a lot of sports.”

You know what is 100% free and doesn’t require any payment to the cable industry? Broadcast TV. This guy is suggesting people pay money every month – albeit to a different company – to watch something that is broadcast OVER THE AIR. The reason Aereo thinks it is legal is because they are just retransmitting something you can already pick up through your TV. It’s the act of retransmission that is illegal without permission.

If you want to get rid of cable – as the title implies – this completely fails to do that. The author even says so. Now, if you would rather pay a different company for something you can already get for free, maybe he is on to something.

Perhaps they should retitle this piece “Aereo makes it tempting to give someone else money you don’t need to be spending on something that’s already free.”

The problem, you see, is that everything on your TV is not cable. Some of it is good old-fashioned, pick-it-up-with-rabbit-ears broadcast TV.  For those born after 1990, let me explain. The rest of you can jump down a paragraph.

There are some channels that ‘broadcast’ TV.  That is, they transmit it over the open airwaves, and any chucklehead with a digital TV can pick it up FOR FREE.  (Yes, it has to be digital. I don’t have time to explain why.) ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, etc are all broadcast channels. So the two programs he mentions (Downton Abbey and Revenge) are already free without a subscription service of any kind.  Don’t believe me? Disconnect your cable box, switch the input to “TV” and see what you pick up. Fun, isn’t it.

I find it hysterically amusing that “ABC News” – which is affiliated with a broadcast station – has an article suggesting that you need to pay to get an ABC show that they deliver for free (Revenge is an ABC program).

Why would ABC do something that ridiculous? Because here is the real rub in all of this.  The broadcasters, who deliver all their shows for free, over the air, are also demanding retransmission payments from cable companies that make those same shows available to you without requiring you to switch inputs on the TV.  In fact, they are demanding ever-larger payments from cable companies. In some cases, I have been told by cable company reps, those increases can be more than 400%.

Broadcasters are a big chunk of the reason your cable bills go up all the time. They are charging you for something you can already get for free.  And as more people watch it for free, the broadcasters raise the rates on those still willing to pay.

Then they have the brass stones to run an article like this one that suggests you can pay someone else to get the stuff they air for free.

There are ways to get rid of cable. They don’t work for most, but they exist.  However, if all you are watching are broadcast channels, you certainly don’t need to be paying Aereo or anyone else for it.

Written by Michael Turk