Aereo Expansion Delayed as Company Handles Legal Issues with Broadcasters - The UpStream

Aereo Expansion Delayed as Company Handles Legal Issues with Broadcasters

posted Sunday Dec 22, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Aereo Expansion Delayed as Company Handles Legal Issues with Broadcasters

Court cases seem to be the popular way to keep Aereo in the news as of late. Whether or not the next round, a push from the broadcasters to bring Aereo to the Supreme Court, will bode successful or not doesn't really matter right now. This is because legal issues also take up Aereo's time and prevent the company from expanding, which is what the networks want to happen anyway. This week, CEO and founder Chet Kanojia explained why some of the 24 markets promised still haven't seen Aereo appear. I'm sure you can guess why.

Having not opposed the broadcaster's petition to hear the case before the US Supreme Court, Aereo had this to say.

We have decided to not oppose the broadcasters' petition for certiorari before the United States Supreme Court. While the law is clear and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and two different federal courts have ruled in favor of Aereo, broadcasters appear determined to keep litigating the same issues against Aereo in every jurisdiction that we enter. We want this resolved on the merits rather than through a wasteful war of attrition.

The long-standing landmark Second Circuit decision in Cablevision has served as a crucial underpinning to the cloud computing and cloud storage industry. The broadcasters' filing makes clear that they are using Aereo as a proxy to attack Cablevision itself.

Aereo provides to consumers antenna and DVR technology. With Aereo, a consumer tunes an individual, remotely located antenna and makes personal recordings on a cloud DVR. The Aereo technology is functionally equivalent to a home antenna and DVR, but it is an innovation that provides convenience and ease to the consumer. The plaintiffs are trying to deny consumers the ability to use a more modern antenna and DVR by trying to prevent a consumer's access to these technologies via the cloud.

Consumers have the right to use an antenna to access the over-the-air television. It is a right that should be protected and preserved and in fact, has been protected for generations by Congress. Eliminating a consumer's right to take advantage of innovation with respect to antenna technology would disenfranchise millions of Americans in cities and rural towns across the country.

We are unwavering in our belief that Aereo's technology falls squarely within the law and we look forward to continuing to delight our customers.

As you would imagine, Kanojia said that he is completely sure that Aereo conducts business legally in all markets it's currently in. Partly summarizing the above statement, he also reiterated that so far Aereo has come out the victor in twice in court hearings, with the New York court straight-up denying an appeal from CBS.

However, because of the issues that have come to the surface every time Aereo tries to enter a new market, the over-the-air-streaming start-up has gone along with the decision by the broadcasters to have a federal ruling finally end the saga. But legal things tend to get pricey, and Kanojia said that time and money are two big reasons we haven't seen the expansion that the company initially had planned for. Since the plans to roll out in 24 new cities was announced, we've only seen 10 markets go live.

Another delay the CEO cited was transitioning the Aereo technology to adapt to other cities. Currently, the company uses indoor antennas to provide service to its customers and some areas have required outdoor antennas to function properly, which requires a different type of hardware and of course, permits and approval.

The good news is that the delays won't have those wanting service to wait much longer. For the promised markets, Kanojia said that Aereo should be available in a handful more by the end of January. So while we wait to know when and where we'll see even more markets available for Aereo, we'll be watching something else unfold: a potential Supreme Court ruling.


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