Startup sued for putting local TV on the iPhone

Mar 02, 2012 By PETER SVENSSON , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- Broadcasters have sued a startup backed by media billionaire Barry Diller that sends live local TV feeds to iPhones and iPads in the New York area.

Two groups of broadcasters, including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the local PBS station, filed suits Thursday in federal court, saying Aereo Inc.'s service uses their content without permission.

Aereo launched two weeks ago, but it's available by invitation only. Subscribers pay $12 per month for access to 27 locally broadcast TV channels through the Web browsers on their Apple devices. It's set to open up to more subscribers on March 14. The company hopes to expand service to other cities.

Aereo says the suits are groundless and it looks forward to "a full and fair airing of the issues."

Aereo has more than $25 million in venture capital backing, with more than $20 million of it coming from a funding round led by InterActiveCorp, which owns Match.com, Ask.com and other websites. Diller is the chairman of InterActiveCorp and the former CEO of Fox.

The startup exploits what it believes is a loophole in the laws governing retransmission of local broadcasts. It doesn't use one big antenna to pick up the local broadcasts and relay them to the Internet. Instead, it uses one tiny antenna for each subscriber that's watching.

People are entitled to watch local broadcast TV when they use their own antennas, and Aereo believes that what it's doing, legally speaking, is acting as a remote antenna for each subscriber, rather than taking broadcasts and retransmitting them.

Broadcasters aren't buying that argument.

"Aereo's service to the end user is similar to and competes with cable or satellite operators and telephone companies that also retransmit broadcast programming to their subscribers, except that Aereo's service is unlawful," said the suit filed by ABC, CBS, NBC and others.

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Lord_jag
5 / 5 (3) Mar 02, 2012
They're broadcasting for free anyway. With commercials.

This company is expanding their viewer base. This only means more people watch their commercials and more commercial companies want to be aired on their channel. This is win-win for all. Why the lawsuits?

"Stop watching our free programming who's commercials make us billions of dollars in revenue please. We don't like money."
Vendicar_Decarian
0.3 / 5 (36) Mar 02, 2012
TV capture cards have been available for the last 25 years.
33Nick
5 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2012
But greed knows no bound. It's particularly comic when you consider the dwindling amount of people watching TV and the even less amount of people watching those dreaded, boring commercials.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.1 / 5 (35) Mar 03, 2012
It is typically comic as the predators fight over a dwindling resource. In this case viewers.

I haven't watched any TV in the last 13 years. Reality (Really Fantasy) TV came in and I left.