Supreme Court to hear stream-TV case

Chet Knojia, CEO of Aereo Inc., holds a tablet with his company's streaming TV. His company will face off against broadcast companies before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Chet Knojia, CEO of Aereo Inc., holds a tablet with his company's streaming TV. His company will face off against broadcast companies before the U.S. Supreme Court. (BEBETO MATTHEWS / AP)
Posted: January 12, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether a New York technology company can grab over-the-air broadcast-TV signals and stream the network content to subscribers without paying fees.

The nation's highest court agreed Friday to hear the case brought by TV broadcast companies against Aereo Inc., which has raised almost $100 million in funding and launched in about a dozen TV markets, though not Philadelphia.

ABC, Fox, CBS, and NBC (the last owned by Philadelphia's Comcast Corp.) oppose Aereo's service, saying the company illegally retransmits the TV content without paying fees that cable- and satellite-TV operators pay.

Rapidly escalating retransmission fees for broadcast-TV stations are a future source of network-TV profits and could add billions of dollars to cable- and satellite-TV bills in the next several years.

Aereo says its service complies with federal telecommunications laws by assigning each subscriber a tiny antenna and then streaming TV signals individually.

Aereo chief executive Chet Kanojia said in a statement, "This case is critically important not only to Aereo, but to the entire cloud computing and cloud storage industry."

In a joint statement, ABC and NBC said, "We are gratified that the Supreme Court has granted our petition to review issues that both sides recognize as significant, and we look forward to making our case to the court."

The high court is likely to hear arguments on the case in the spring.

Aereo said Tuesday that it had raised an additional $34 million in financing, bringing its total venture funding to $97 million.


bfernandez@phillynews.com

215-854-5897 @bobfernandez1

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