Aereo, the television service backed in part by board member Barry Diller’s IAC, has had its legality challenged in two separate legal filings in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of N.Y.
One suit was filed by PBS, Fox Television Stations, Univision Television Group, the Univision Network, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., WNET and Thirteen (see below), while the other comes from the American Broadcasting Companies, Disney Enterprises, CBS Broadcasting, CBS Studios, NBC Universal Media, NBC Studios, Universal Network Television, Telemundo Network Group and WNJU-TV.
In an interesting congruency, Diller served for several years as chairman and CEO of 20th Century Fox and was the driving force behind the formation of Fox Broadcasting.
Aereo is planning to launch a subscription service on March 14, initially only in New York, that would allow users to watch free over-the-air television on their smartphones, tablets or other connected device.
To do so, it has thousands of tiny little antennas in clusters (see photo) around the city, and each one gets assigned for the exclusive use of an individual customer. According to Aereo, this means it is not retransmitting the signal and that it’s not legally different from an antenna on the customer’s own roof. The various broadcasters and station groups who filed the suits disagree and are seeking an injunction to block Aereo’s launch and to recover damages and court costs.
Aereo has issued a statement reiterating that it “does not believe that the broadcasters’ position has any merit and it very much looks forward to a full and fair airing of the issues.” It added, “Aereo very much looks forward to its upcoming product launch as well as a prompt resolution of these cases.”
The National Associations of Broadcasters has issued a statement of strong support for the action against Aereo.
Aereo – Our Response
Los Angeles Times – Broadcasters sue to stop another online TV service
Broadcasting & Cable – Broadcasters File Suits Against Aereo
Wall Street Journal – Networks Sue Aereo Streaming Start-Up
paidContent – Broadcasters Sue To Stop $12 Streaming Service Aereo
Hollywood Reporter – Barry Diller-Backed TV Streaming Service Sued By Broadcasters
AllThingsD – Broadcast Stations Sue Aereo Over Web TV Plans