Bankrupt Internet TV service Aereo’s curtain call will be a sale of its assets, ending a series of legal setbacks that landed the company in Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year. Aereo filed for bankruptcy Nov. 11 following legal losses that essentially prevented it from operating and thwarted its attempt to reinvent itself as a cable television operator. The bankruptcy court approved a process last month for Aereo to sell its streaming technology, allowing broadcasters who initiated the legal fight to weigh in on the sale. Aereo had operated a subscription service using banks of dime-sized antennas to capture broadcast signals and convert them into streaming video distributed over the Internet.
The Supreme Court rejected a request Monday from the Minority Television Project (MTVP), licensee of public TV station KMTP in San Francisco, to review a circuit court ruling that upheld a ban on political and public-issue commercials on public television. The justices turned down the case without comment, allowing the December 2013 decision of the 9th Circuit Court to stand, which upheld barring the advertisements. In its petition, MTVP asked the court to overturn its 1969 decision in Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, which allowed the government to restrict some broadcast content. That aspect of the case prompted amicus briefs from organizations including the libertarian-oriented Cato Institute.
The broadcast decision that embroiled Arkansas ETV in a landmark First Amendment struggle ever since 1992 was “a reasonable, viewpoint-neutral exercise of journalistic discretion,” the Supreme Court ruled May 18. The high court’s 6-3 ruling overturned an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in 1996 that the state network had infringed House candidate Ralph P. Forbes’ free-speech rights by refusing to add him to the two major-party nominees in a broadcast debate more than five years ago. “This is a great decision for viewers,” and will let the network continue airing candidate debates, said Susan Howarth, executive director of the five-transmitter state network, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “The majority opinion gives us as much or more than we thought we would win in our most optimistic moments,” said the elated Richard D. Marks, attorney for Arkansas ETV. Marks had pictured the Circuit Court’s 1996 decision as “a grave threat” to state-owned pubcasters that could undercut their ability to make editorial judgments.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION v. PACIFICA FOUNDATION ET AL. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF
No. 77-528. Argued in the U.S. Supreme Court, April 18-19, 1978, and decided, July 3, 1978. See full text and citations on FindLaw.