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DirecTV, Time Warner Cable Are Said to Weigh Aereo-Type Services

DirecTV, Time Warner Cable Inc. and Charter Communications Inc., taking a page from Aereo Inc., are considering capturing free broadcast-TV signals to avoid paying billions of dollars in so-called retransmission fees, said people with knowledge of the deliberations.

Aereo, which charges $8 a month for online access to broadcast TV, is locked in a court battle with CBS Corp. and other media companies over the legality of its service. If Aereo prevails, cable companies could use the same approach to bypass the fees they now pay for network signals, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are at an early stage. Time Warner Cable has even considered buying Aereo, said one of the people.