The American Cable Association has lined up Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, to speak at its annual summit in Washington April 2, the same day the conference has lined up FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. Rep. Peter Welch has also been added to the agenda.
Some ACA members have said in the past they are looking at Aereo as they explore ways to deliver programming online as well as to get out from under what they argue are artificially high retrans fees they say threaten their businesses. But some Aereo critics argue that cable operator's programming could be next up for the service, which delivers broadcast TV station programming over the Internet without paying a copyright fee.
Kanojia's appearance comes the same day that Aereo backers are scheduled to file their briefs in the Supreme Court in support of Aereo's argument that it is simply providing remote access to the over-the-air antennas its subs use to access free TV, and the DVR functionality that lets them make copies for home use.
ACA has been a leading voice in cable's push to limit coordinated retrans, and has found a receptive ear in FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who is planning to tighten JSAs and take a hard look at other sharing arrangements that involve associated financial elements—shared lenders or options to buy.
ACA also announced that Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a member of the House Communications Subcommittee, will also speak April 2.