Online TV station distributor Aereo has shut down its service and will refund customers for the last month's service, but says it is "just a pause." "Aereo is consulting with the court and mapping out next steps," said a spokesperson for the company.
That message came in a letter to subscribers Saturday (June 28) from company founder Chet Kanjoia.
The Supreme Court ruled last week that Aereo's delivery of TV station signals to subscribers without paying a copyright fee violates the law, reversing and remanding a Second Circuit Court of Appeals refusal to block the service while the underlying case was argued in a lower court. The court found Aereo was effectively a distributor of a public performance, like a cable system, not a facilitator of online access to free TV station signals and fair use copying.
Investor Barry Diller has said that decision means the service is likely history, though Kanojia has said he might consider paying that fee to broadcasters.
"We want to encourage Aereo customers to keep their voices loud and sign up for updates at ProtectMyAntenna.org, as our journey is far from done," said the spokeswoman.
"The Supreme Court has quite definitively spoken on the legitimacy of Mr. Kanojia's business model. We respect its verdict," said the National Association of Broadcasters in response to Areo's announcement.
The Kanojia letter to subs is below:
“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.” --Charles Kettering, inventor, entrepreneur, innovator & philanthropist
"A little over three years ago, our team embarked on a journey to improve the consumer television experience, using technology to create a smart, cloud-based television antenna consumers could use to access live over the air broadcast television.
"On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision in favor of Aereo, dealing a massive setback to consumers.
"As a result of that decision, our case has been returned to the lower Court. We have decided to pause our operations temporarily as we consult with the court and map out our next steps. You will be able to access your cloud-based antenna and DVR only until 11:30 a.m. ET today.
"All of our users will be refunded their last paid month. If you have questions about your account, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @AereoSupport.
"The spectrum that the broadcasters use to transmit over the air programming belongs to the American public and we believe you should have a right to access that live programming whether your antenna sits on the roof of your home, on top of your television or in the cloud.
"On behalf of the entire team at Aereo, thank you for the outpouring of support. It has been staggering and we are so grateful for your emails, Tweets and Facebook posts. Keep your voices loud and sign up for updates at ProtectMyAntenna.org – our journey is far from done."
The smarter way to stay on top of the multichannel video marketplace. Sign up below.
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.