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The one-antenna-per-subscriber setup doesn’t look like much of a loophole, Flick says, since courts ruling on retransmission cases have “a fundamental history of saying over the years: `Look, if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s a duck.’”

NBC, Fox and ABC make their shows available on iPads, iPhones and other tablets and phones through Hulu.com, which doesn’t have live programming or local news. And shows aren’t available on Hulu until the day after they air. Hulu charges $8 per month for access from mobile devices. Cable companies are also making some programming available on iPads and iPhones in the homes of people who subscribe to cable.

Meanwhile, TV stations are trying to make their live feeds accessible on phones through special “mobile DTV” broadcasts. But to receive those, viewers would need phones with special antennas, and phone companies have shown no interest in carrying such phones.