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Television viewers increasingly watch their favorite shows on their smartphones, tablets and computers. And TV sets don't even need a broadcast signal anymore: Services such as Netflix are supplying content to screens of all kinds by streaming it over the Internet. The Internet-TV convergence is sparking major changes in the television industry. Debate is raging over a proposal by Comcast, already the country's largest cable TV and high-speed Internet provider, to acquire Time Warner Cable in a $45 billion deal that has raised antitrust concerns. The Supreme Court is expected to decide if the startup firm Aereo can transmit over-the-air television programs to subscribers via the Internet without paying networks for the content. And the steady rise in pay-TV bills is fueling consumer outrage. Industry defenders say viewers are getting more for their money, but some disgruntled viewers are “cutting the cord” on subscriber services — an option becoming more appealing as more programs stream over the Web.
|1967–1980||Cable TV gradually expands from rural roots into a nationwide television gateway.|
|1984–2006||Congress retightens regulation as pay-TV audience grows to majority of the population.|
|2007-Present||Majority of U.S. households connected to the Internet, through which video offerings soon stream onto TVs, opening the age of TV-Internet convergence.|