UPDATED: CBS investors apparently became more comfortable with the Aereo news from the Supreme Court as the afternoon wore on. The broadcasters’ shares edged back into positive territory, closing +0.1%, and narrowed the striking gap with the S&P 500 that opened right around the time justices began questioning lawyers in the case.
PREVIOUS, 11:00 AM: Can’t say for sure, but the timing leads me to think that there’s a connection. CBS has the most at stake in the Aereo case among Big Media companies because it’s so dependent on broadcasting — including retransmission consent fees which, in theory, could be jeopardized if the streaming service can tap over-the-air transmissions without payment. CBS was up about 0.8% this morning, in line with the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500, until shortly after noon ET — during the court’s questioning period — when it fell sharply to -0.8% without a corresponding change in the S&P. Shares have begun to creep back up, but are still -0.2% in afternoon trading. This should be a good day for the broadcaster: This morning Morgan Stanley’s Benjamin Swinburne reiterated a “buy” recommendation for CBS, saying that even a loss at the Supreme Court would have “no impact” on existing retransmission consent deals. The analyst added that a loss also “likely leads to a legislative response in ’15 ultimately confirming the networks’ ability to negotiate carriage fees.”