Ok, the bickering is getting out of hand and going nowhere. Some facts we're going to accept into evidence and debate no further:
1. NO JUDGEMENT HAS BEEN MADE ON AEREO'S CASE. Just an injunction. That is not a judgement, just a decision on whether or not to allow the business to operate UNTIL THE CASE IS HEARD AND DECIDED ON. Whether an injunction is issued or not has no bearing on future decisions. You can find TONS of cases where injunctions were not granted, but the case was lost in court, You can find even more where an injunction WAS allowed but the defendant prevailed, anyway. So, no more statements about how judges have "decided" anything. The Supreme Court is not imminently deciding this case. The CASE probably won't even reach them.
2) Networks only get retrans fees FOR THE STATIONS THEY OWN.. not directly from affiliates.
3) The advertising landscape has changed since 1995. Television stations cannot "go back to the way they were doing things in 1995." Not unless everything else reverts, too. While the costs of doing business... ANY business. have increased, local television ad revenue hasn't kept pace. In many markets, television ad revenue has gone down. Retrans fees help fill in the gap, along with nontraditional revenue streams. Without income from retrans fees, you WILL see the end of local news on all but the biggest affiliates. That is simply not debatable. (Let's face it, if a CBS O&O can't pull in enough ad dollars to sustain a local news operation in DETROIT, then it tells you the rest have to be on pretty tight budgets). It's a tighter budget than any of you think. Especially in markets where crews are union. (I still remember a station up this way that punted an annual telethon because the expense of crewing it was more than the money that came in. It was cheaper to just write the charity a check)
Now, some things still debatable, but I think are central to the whole concern...
1) I'm pretty sure Aereo could exist peacefully in a world without retrans fees. It's serves such a niche clientele that true damage to an affiliates ratings is negligible. And, as I've pointed out before, it's only viable in large markets, leaving affiliates in small and medium markets unaffected.. BUT..if Aereo doesn't have to pay, then cable isn't going to want to, either. That WILL affect medium and smaller markets. And that, from Huck Finn's own link, is a $7B loss to affiliates and O&Os. Fatal for a large number of television stations. (and do remember, there are a lot more than just Big 4-affiliated stations).
2) This will test the very core of the Digital Copyright Act, or at the very least become precedent for a lot of cases not even filed, yet. Pandora's box, as it were.
3) And what I think the biggest issue is going to be: By adding in DVR-type functionality, Aereo commits a "reperformance" of a copyrighted work. This differs from a DVR that's in your house in that, once inside your house, the programming is yours to do with as you please so long as it remains in your "house" (that's a generalization). Rights for on-demand and web access to certain television shows is part of the contracts networks have with production houses. Aereo isn't part of those contracts. Hollywood gets $$ - directly or indirectly - for web showings and on-demand (no, not from YOU directly). Should Hollywood decide Aereo is committing a "performance" or distributing a perfect "digital copy" that's separate from the original broadcast, they'll demand a cut.
I still think Aereo's service fills a void. Only because TV stations are still recovering from the digital transition and haven't given thought to a web-delivery infrastructure.
But, if Aereo wins, I'm starting Doc's DVR service. $5 a month lets you watch anything I've recorded and/or edited the commercials out of. Just log on and stream away. (Ok, that's a joke, but should a court decide Aereo wins, then the door is open to all kinds of just such enterprises. And I'm gonna go finish my law degree before that happens