The CEO told analysts this evening he’s “very confident” that the copyright infringement charges that CBS and other broadcasters are raising against Aereo will prevail in U.S. District Court. That appeared questionable last month when Judge Alison Nathan declined to pull the plug on Aereo while she considers arguments about whether the streaming service is legal. Broadcasters say that Aereo has no right to build a subscription streaming business using their programming without paying them. But the Barry Diller-backed upstart says that the shows are already available for free to anyone with an antenna, which is what it offers — remotely — to its customers. Moonves called the recent ruling a “minor loss” adding that “it’s not even the first out of the first inning.” CBS has a lot at stake in the case: It expects to see at least $250M this year in revenues from pay TV distributors as a result of retransmission consent negotiations. Some investors fear that pay TV companies will pull back on those payments if they see that Aereo’s able to retransmit broadcasters’ signals for free. Those who believe that “are exaggerating greatly,” Moonves says. “It’s not something I lose sleep over for even 5 minutes.” This morning Aereo announced a new array of pricing options for customers in New York, its first market. Diller says it will be in most major U.S. cities by the end of next year.
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