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CEA Supports Aereo TV

30 Oct, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel


The Consumer Electronics Association has filed a court brief in support of Aereo TV, the Barry Diller-backed New York service that enables consumers to stream broadcast television via mini antennae to portable devices.

Broadcasters and their corporate parents are suing Aereo TV claiming the service illegally accesses their content, among other charges.

The CEA Oct. 29 in its brief from CEO Gary Shapiro said the consumer electronics association supports Aereo since its case hinges on principles from the 1984 Supreme Court Sony Betamax case. The court ruled in favor of Sony, a decision that opened the door for the creation of the digital video recorder, VHS and DVD.

Shapiro said the Aereo case, like the Sony Betamax, represents innovative technology allowing people to access free, over-the-air broadcasting. The Sony case introduced the concept of time shifting broadcasting by a VCR; in Aereo, it is accessing free broadcasting through a computer. 

In both cases, Shapiro said the technology expands the audience, is consistent with broadcaster-borrowed use of public spectrum for free, over-the-air broadcasting and is being challenged by “old industries.”

“Our legal system can and must favor innovation over the status quo,” Shapiro said in a statement. “Our American exceptionalism and economic growth rely on innovation and we must fight legacy industries seeking to maintain their old ways of doing business.”

Broadcasters contend they are not against technology, arguing that their content isn’t free and must be licensed — not pirated — regardless of the distribution channel.

Aereo TV also has support from the Electronic Frontier Association and Public Knowledge — both of which have filed legal briefs backing the service.

“Consumers do not need permission to watch free TV,” John Bergmayer, senior staff lawyer with Public Knowledge, said in a statement. “Just as viewers are allowed to use rabbit ears to receive over-the-air broadcasts, they’re allowed to make use of Aereo’s remote antenna service.”

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