Broadcast Networks Hope to Stop Aereokiller DC Expansion

Fox, NBC, ABC and Allbritton Communications have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington against Aereokiller, to block the streaming startup from expanding its service to the nation’s capital. Founded by FilmOn’s Alki David, Aereokiller gets its name from Barry Diller-backed Aereo. Last week we reported that David agreed to change his company name in order to settle a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Aereo.

Aereo “has so far prevailed in court against broadcasters’ efforts to halt its streaming service in the New York market,” reports Variety. “It does so via a remote system of dime-sized antennas, their signals beamed to each assigned subscriber.”

Broadcasters have vigorously been claiming copyright infringement, since Aereo streams TV content without permission.

“Aereokiller, too, uses tiny antennas, according to David, but it faced a different fate in the Los Angeles market. When the networks challenged the legality of Aereokiller in L.A., a federal court ruled in favor of the broadcasters, prohibiting the company from stealing their signals in the western states of the Ninth Circuit,” notes the article. “That put the decision in conflict with that of the New York federal courts, raising the prospect that the case will eventually end up in the Supreme Court.”

“Our complaint filed today in the federal district court for the District of Columbia underscores our commitment to vigorously protect our copyrighted programming from illegal appropriation by opportunistic pirates,” the media companies said in a joint statement.

In a related story, Representative Greg Walden (R-Oregon) contends that Aereo — as well as Dish’s Hopper — could significantly disrupt the market and potentially impact the current broadcast model.

“Walden called both Aereo and Hopper disruptions in the marketplace and said he was surprised by the court decision allowing Areo’s service to continue, at least while the court decides the broadcasters’ underlying challenge,” reports Broadcasting & Cable.

While being interviewed for C-SPAN’s Communicators series, Walden, who is chair of the House Communications Subcommittee, suggested that Aereo could have “much bigger consequences” for the broadcast model than some have realized. He also sympathized with Fox’s statement that it might switch to a cable model if Aereo is not stopped.

“At some point, producers of programming have to have a way to get paid or you aren’t going to have programming,” Walden said.