Broadcasters sue to block Aereo


No surprise here. WNET-TV NYC, various Fox units, various Univision units, Tribune’s WPIX-TV NYC and PBS have filed suit in a New York Federal Court seeking to block Barry Diller’s Aereo from launching its planned Internet-based TV streaming service later this month. Aereo claims its service, which is to launch March 14, is legal because it assigns a single antenna to each subscriber.

“It simply does not matter whether Aereo uses one big antenna to receive Plaintiffs’ broadcasts and retransmit them to subscribers, or ‘tons’ of ‘tiny’ antennas, as Aereo claims it does,” the broadcasters said in their lawsuit. Rather, Aereo is just violating copyright law by retransmitting the broadcast programming over the Internet without licensing the content.

Aereo plans to charge $12 per month for its service, which includes streaming of local broadcast signals and a centralized DVR for subscribers. It plans to expand to markets nationwide after launching in the New York DMA.

“NAB strongly supports today’s legal action against Aereo. Copyright and TV signal protections promote a robust local broadcasting system that serves tens of millions of Americans every day with high quality news, entertainment, sports and emergency weather information. A plaintiffs’ win in this case will ensure the continued availability of this programming to the viewing public,” said a statement from NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton.

RBR-TVBR observation: Other than the DVR feature, we can’t figure out why consumers would pay a monthly fee of $12 for this service when they can buy a digital TV antenna and software for their PC, tablet or mobile device for around a hundred bucks and never have to pay again to watch free over-the-air television in their market.