Cablevision slams Aereo

Joins broadcasters in their battle against upstart

Cablevision has joined broadcasters in their battle against upstart Aereo, a sign that the new cloud-based service is spooking others in the media biz besides the broadcasters who have sued to shut it down.

And Cablevision’s Aereo slam comes despite the fact that a judge in Aereo’s case drew heavily from the verdict in a 2008 lawsuit against Cablevision to justify keeping Aereo up and running pending the outcome of a trial. Broadcasters had asked for a temporary injunction that the federal district court judge denied in July.

Cablevision insisted Monday in a friend-of-the-court (or Amicus) brief that the earlier decision isn’t relevant to Aereo and urged the court to reverse its ruling.

Aereo, backed by Barry Diller and his IAC/Interactive Corp., broadcasts feeds from local TV stations over the Internet live or delayed using tiny antennas it developed. It launched formally last month in New York but is planning an aggressive rollout.

ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Univision, Telemundo and PBS have sued Aereo for copyright infringement. The service threatens hundreds of millions of dollars in retransmission and reverse compensation revenue for broadcasters and also makes measuring advertising more complicated. Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kinojia stressed last week that its proprietary DVR service doesn’t have an automatic ad-skipping feature like the one on Dish’s controversial Hopper device.

Cablevision had been sued for allowing its subscribers to record programs on a cloud-based remote server. But it said there’s a critical difference: It always paid retrans and licensing fees, which Aereo doesn’t. It said Aereo’s service doesn’t adhere to the so-called “private performance” standard, as the court found Cablevision’s did.

“Because Cablevision currently operates the system this Court upheld, it has a direct interest in the proper interpretation of the Court’s decision,” the company wrote. “Moreover, this case implicates a complex marketplace with rapidly evolving technologies.

“Cablevision both provides cutting-edge technologies in that market and distributes over its cable system content licensed from copyright holders. For that reason, Cablevision has a unique — and uniquely balanced — perspective.”

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