Exec gives Aereo 50-50 odds at Supreme Court

IAC Chairman Barry Diller says the online video firm backed by his company has a 50-50 chance of prevailing at the Supreme Court.

"It's going to be a tough, tough, battle" for Aereo, and one that will kill the company if it loses, Diller told The Hollywood Reporter.

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case between Aereo and broadcasters.

Broadcasters say Aereo violates copyright law by streaming broadcast content without compensating them.

Aereo argues that its service is legal because it streams broadcast content that consumers can get for free over the air with an antenna, and the company says it has an antenna for each user.

"I think, honestly, at best — at best — we have a 50-50 chance [of prevailing], certainly not on what I think supposedly settled law is but because it has become so controversial," Diller told The Hollywood Reporter.

Diller pushed back on the doomsday scenario being presented by broadcasters, who say that they will consider shifting their programming away from free over-the-air broadcast channels and to subscription based television and Internet channels if Aereo wins.

"If Aereo survives, it's incomprehensible that it will have any particular effect on the economics of broadcasting," Diller said.

Diller added that he was "shocked" when the Department of Justice threw its weight behind the broadcasters.

"I was shocked because the Obama administration has been so out front about innovation, about supporting not only technology but also consumers' rights, that if I had not been cynical before, it would make me utterly and completely cynical," he said.

"I believe the only reason — the only reason — they have supported this is because of the broadcasting lobby."