Report: Broadcasters ask high court to shut down Aereo TV streaming service

The broadcasters are turning to the U.S. Supreme Court after a lower court wouldn't grant an injunction

By , IDG News Service |  

A cadre of prominent broadcasters including ABC and CBS petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to shut down Aereo, a television streaming service, alleging that Aereo infringes their copyrights and puts their businesses at risk, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The petition alleges that Aereo, which charges a fee to stream local TV stations' programming over the Internet, violates broadcasters' copyrights, the WSJ report said. The stations' broadcasts include network programming. The petitioning broadcasters include the owners of the ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox networks. They are appealing a ruling by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals that shot down their request for an injunction against Aereo, the WSJ said.

The previous ruling said Aereo's streaming TV service did not infringe the copyrights of over-the-air TV stations.

The circuit court's decision "is already transforming the industry and threatening the very fundamentals of broadcast television," the broadcasters wrote in their petition, the WSJ said.

An Aereo spokeswoman said the company "will respond, as appropriate, in due course."

Aereo has argued that its service falls squarely within the law. The company's technology uses remote antennas to receive over-the-air TV signals. Users can record shows to a digital video recorder in the cloud, and then watch them on devices including phones, tablets and computers.

"There is no reason that consumers should be limited to 1950s technology to access over-the-air broadcast television," Aereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia said Thursday in a statement following a separate ruling in a U.S. district court in Massachusetts.

If the Supreme Court rules in the case, its decision could have far-reaching implications that go beyond Aereo's standing as a business. The petition comes as more people turn to the Internet to consume television content, and a negative ruling might prevent other emerging companies from providing a service similar to Aereo's.

However, victories by Aereo in lower courts put it in a good position, said Art Brodsky, a communications consultant in the telecom industry.

"Aereo is still in the driver's seat," Brodsky said.

"The reason these broadcasters have taken this to the Supreme Court is because they've lost down below," he said. "This is the last step they can take."

Aereo is currently only available in select areas, including New York, Boston, Miami and Atlanta, but is expanding rapidly, the company's website says.

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