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CBS to move online if Aereo prevails

The head of CBS has threatened to move the US network off the airwaves and onto the internet if Aereo’s online streaming service prevails in its ongoing legal battle.

CEO Les Moonves said the network could offer its content directly to customers over the internet and cut off its traditional broadcast signal if Aereo’s model is ruled legal.

US-based Aereo allows subscribers to watch TV channels on mobile devices using a personal antenna but does not pay licensing fees to broadcasters which has sparked a furious legal row which is heading for a Supreme Court hearing scheduled for April 22.

“If Aereo should work, if they should win, which we don’t think will happen, we can go OTT with CBS,” Moonves said at an investor conference yesterday.

“If people want to steal our signal, if the government wants to give them permission to steal our signal, then we will come up with some other way to get them our content and still get paid for it.”

Earlier this month, the US department of justice sided with the country’s main broadcast networks in the ongoing legal battle against Aereo.

It was another legal blow to the online streaming service after it was blocked by six US states last month.

Moonves added that CBS would go online “if there are systems out there that try to hurt us.”

CBS has been battling against Aereo since the streaming service launched, threatening legal action in April last year and then being the subject of counter action by Aereo.

Aereo has repeatedly defended its right to stream television through individual, personal antennas without paying license fees. The venture, back by former Fox chief Barry Diller at launch, received US$34m in new investment in January with veteran media backer Gordon Crawford contributing.

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