CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, Univision and PBS file suit against Aereo

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Aereo, a new service that promises consumers access to broadcast TV though the Internet, has been hit with lawsuits from ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Univision and PBS.

Scheduled to launch in New York City on March 14, Aereo hopes to charge customers $12 a month to receive broadcast television signals and have access to a digital video recorder in the sky that can hold up to 40 hours of programming.


The two suits — one from ABC, CBS and NBC and the other from Fox, Univision and PBS — were both filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and charge that Aereo does not have the permission or the legal right to retransmit their content via the Internet and is in violation of copyright laws.

‘No amount of technological gimmickry by Aereo — or claims that it is simply providing a set of sophisticated ‘rabbit ears’ — changes the fundamental principle of copyright law that those who wish to retransmit Plantiffs’ broadcasts may do so only with Plaintiffs’ authority,’ said the suit filed by Fox, PBS and Univision.

Aereo, originally called Bamboom, is backed in part by IAC/InterActiveCorp., the Internet company whose chairman is Barry Diller, the architect of the Fox Network. Not only is Diller on Aereo’s board of directors, but IAC led the startup’s $20.5-million round of financing.

“This service is based on the illegal use of our content,’ said NBC, CBS and ABC in a statement.

Aereo said in a statement that it ‘does not believe that the broadcasters’ position has any merit and it very much looks forward to a full and fair airing of the issues.’

Tribune Co., parent of the Los Angeles Times and owner of TV stations that include KTLA in Los Angeles, is a plaintiff in the Fox-led suit.


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— Joe Flint