Another so-called over-the-top TV service, Aereo, has been sued by broadcasters for copyright infringement. The move comes as no surprise to many business analysts.
The companies include: American Broadcasting Companies, Disney Enterprises, CBS Broadcasting, CBS Studios, NBC Universal Media, NBC Studios, Universal Network Television, Telemundo Network Group and WNJU-TV. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.
Based in New York, Aereo is planning a March 14 launch -- and has already been beta testing its service. Barry Diller is a major financial backer of the Aereo service.
Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of communications of National Association of Broadcasters, stated: "NAB strongly supports today's legal action against Aereo. Copyright and TV signal protections promote a robust local broadcasting system that serves tens of millions of Americans every day with high-quality news, entertainment, sports and emergency weather information. A plaintiffs' win in this case will ensure the continued availability of this programming to the viewing public."
Unlike other services, Aereo is an "antenna-to-Internet" service, technically ascribing an antenna to each person it sends its signal to. That part of the equation is important, as U.S. viewers can still receive broadcast signals from traditional, old-style, over-the-air antennas at no cost. That is why Aereo believes it doesn't need to pay for its broadcast signals.
But broadcasters believe the service -- and others of its kind -- are more like cable, satellite, and cable multi-TV channel operators that pay broadcast stations a fee to retransmit their signals.
Recently, broadcasters sued and won against other over-the-top Internet TV services -- ivi TV and FilmOn -- which started up in the last year or so.