Aereo Shuts Down in Denver and Salt Lake City

Aereo, the broadband TV startup that was dealt a blow late last week by an appeals court, shut down service temporarily in Denver and Salt Lake City on Saturday morning.  

The service turn down in those cities came a day after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit refused to overturn a preliminary injunction against Aereo that had been granted by a Utah District Court judge. The appeals court declined to overturn the injunction because it didn’t believe Aereo was likely to win the underlying case with Fox.  The injunction prohibits Aereo from operating its service Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Montana.

“This means for the time being, we’ll have to cease providing services to our valued consumers in SLC & Denver markets at 10AM Saturday,” Aereo tweeted on Friday afternoon (March 7).  

“We are extremely disappointed that the District Court in Utah has chosen to take a different path than every other Court that has reviewed the Aereo technology,” Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia said in a note to consumers issued Friday evening, noting that Aereo is issuing full refunds for the current month to customers in Denver and Salt Lake City.

“Consumers have a fundamental right to watch over-the-air broadcast television via a modern antenna and to record copies for their personal use. The Copyright Act provides no justification to curtail that right simply because the consumer is using modern, remotely located equipment,” Kanojia added.

In other tweets, the beleaguered provider of TV and cloud DVR services was undaunted in its belief that it will eventually come out on top as it continues to duke it out in the courts with broadcasters over copyright claims.

“This is an ongoing battle, but together we can protect innovation, progress & consumer choice,” the company noted on Twitter, adding: “We're unwavering in our belief that our technology falls squarely w/in the law & we look forward to continuing to serve our consumers.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently weighing whether to uphold a decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals not to enjoin Aereo. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral argument in that broadcaster-led appeal April 22.

Despite the setback in Denver and Salt Lake City, Aereo continues to expand into other markets. Most recently, it debuted in Austin, Texas, on March 3, just ahead of the SXSW conference. Aereo also offers service in San Antonio; Cincinnati; Boston; Atlanta; Miami; Houston; Dallas; Detroit; and Baltimore. Other markets targeted for future expansion include Chicago; Minneapolis; Madison, Wis.; Cleveland; Providence, R.I.; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pa.; Kansas City; Washington, D.C.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and Birmingham, Ala.

Speaking at the SXSW conference on Saturday, Kanojia downplayed the idea that Aereo would seek a sale as it prepares for battle in the Supreme Court.

“If ... the Supreme Court says your core functionality is above reproach ... that you're legal, then it's an extremely valuable company,” Kanojia said, according to Engadget “Why would I ever want to sell something that is extremely valuable?”

Aereo’s service starts at $8 per month with 20 hours of DVR storage, and goes to $12 per month with 60 hours. The service currently supports iOS devices, Android phones and tablets, the Apple TV (via Airplay), Roku boxes, and on PCs that run Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer 9, Firefox Web browsers.