Programming battles are highlighting the frantic race among a handful of powerful companies to capture the eyeballs of people who are beginning to rethink the way they watch their favorite shows as more of them appear online and as the television begins to act more like a big-screen computer, reports the Washington Post. At stake is control over how Americans will watch movies and television at home – and whether they will have viable alternatives to paying high cable bills to do so. Those trying to shape those habits are titans of industry. On one side are Silicon Valley-type firms such as Google, Apple and Netflix, which are trying to provide content in nontraditional ways. These include streaming video over the Internet or through devices that allow consumers to pick and pay for what they want rather than be forced to buy a package of hundreds of channels, many of which they may never watch. They face opposition from powerful and long-standing alliances between Hollywood, the networks and communications giants such as Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which deliver the content to television sets…

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staff and wire services reports