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Barry Diller’s Aereo Tries To Be Considered Legitimate Online Cable TV

The television streaming service may reinvent itself as an Internet based cable provider.

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IAC/InterActive Corp. Chairman Barry Diller Interview

The Barry Diller funded Internet television live streaming Service Aereo is continuing its efforts to reinvent itself legally, after it lost a landmark US Supreme Court case last month. Now the company says it’s prepared to pay American broadcast networks the same licensing fees that American cable and satellite providers pay them.

The Supreme Court’s decision did not end the case, however. It merely sent it back to the lower court in New York, having overturned a district court judge’s earlier ruling.

In a letter to US District Judge Alison J. Nathan in Manhattan, Aero made its case that the company should be allowed to pay licensing fees for the programming that it had been retransmitting online. The company said, “Although Aereo has temporarily suspended operations, Aereo believes that it can still operate in accordance with the terms of the Supreme Court’s decision and intends to do so.”

Aero’s case will be that it should have the same right to pay to rebroadcast network programming as do cable and satellite providers. But the payment of such fees will surely force it to raise rates well above the $8-$12 that it had offered its subscribers.

“If Aereo is a ‘cable system’ as that term is defined in the Copyright Act, it is eligible for a statutory license, and its transmissions may not be enjoined, ” the court filing argued.

In a statement, Aereo’s Chief Executive Officer Chet Kanojia said, “From the beginning, it has been our mission to build a lawful technology that would provide consumers with more choice and alternatives in how they watch television. We remain committed to building great technologies that create real, meaningful alternatives for customers.”

But the American broadcast networks have filed their own motions asking Judge Nathan to dismiss the case in light of the Supreme Court ruling.

Five US networks, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, along with PBS, sued Aereo for copyright infringements. After Aereo had won a lower court ruling, the Supreme Court sided with the networks in a 6-3 decision on June 25th.

Aereo ceased operations three days after the high court ruling and has offered to repay all of its subscribers their last month’s fees. But it is still spending money on maintaining its infrastructure.

The company first began to offer its services in February of 2012. At first, it was only available in New York, but soon it expanded to twelve cities across the US. Aereo was backed financially by Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp.



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