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Aereo TV Seeks to License Network Programming

9 Jul, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Aereo TV is not going away quietly.

The Manhattan, N.Y.-based subscription service July 9 said it is eligible to license network programming following the June 25 decision by the United States Supreme Court that found Aereo operates more as a multichannel video program distributor than technology provider.

Aereo enabled subscribers to access and record live local TV programming via mini antenna attached to portable media devices.

In a joint letter with plaintiffs (i.e. broadcasters) to the U.S. District Court in New York, Aereo said the top court’s decision entitles it to a “compulsory license” in which broadcasters must be willing to negotiate programing licensing in good faith.

Aereo is asking the U.S. District Court to decide “immediately” so its ability to remain in business won’t be jeopardized. It suspended operations June 28.

In an email to supporters, Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia reiterated the company’s mission “from the beginning” had been to build a lawful technology that would provide consumers with more choice and alternatives in how they watch television.

“We believed that providing an innovative cloud-based individual antenna would provide consumers with a convenient way to use an antenna to watch the live, free-to-air signals broadcast over public spectrum that belongs to them,” Kanojia said. 

Meanwhile, broadcasters, which include ABC and CBS, among others,  contend Aereo is trying to change the rules by reinventing itself with a defense it never presented before the Supreme Court.

“It is astonishing for Aereo to contend the Supreme Court’s decision automatically transformed [it] into a cable system given its prior statements [to the contrary] to this court and the Supreme Court,” the broadcasters wrote.

The plaintiffs say Aereo should not be granted a license until after it satisfies the top court’s ruling that it violated broadcasters’ exclusive rights to publicly perform over a two-year period, causing “irreparable harm.”


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