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ACA Summit: Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia Says Supreme Court Case Not A Copyright Case, But A Business Model Case

PITTSBURGH, April 3, 2014 - Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, whose company is preparing for a major legal test with the TV broadcast industry in the U.S. Supreme Court on April 22, yesterday told attendees at the American Cable Association's 21st Summit that the critical issue is not one of copyright, but rather of a new business model.

 "People say this is a copyright case. This is not," said Kanojia at the Washington, D.C., event "It's a business model case. It's a bundling case. People want to protect their bundled rights."

Aereo is shaking up television with its groundbreaking online television technology that enables consumers to access an individual, cloud-based over-the-air antenna and DVR to record and watch HD broadcast television on Internet-connected devices, including smart TVs, smartphones, tablets and computers. Broadcasters have challenged the service in numerous courts.

Kanojia said, "If people understand that half the value can be had at a fraction of the price, and that others like Netflix are innovating at lightning speed and demonstrating that they can create new product outside the  ecosystem, then the middle men, the packers, don't have room to play."

Kanojia noted that the money at stake is huge. "The top-three guys in these eight or ten companies probably make a billion dollars a year. When people are making that much money, they forget right and wrong."

Aereo is ready for its fight in the Supreme Court. "The brief is robust," Kanojia said, adding that the crux of the issue is interpretation of the Transmit Clause in federal copyright law and whether it allows individuals to make a copy for themselves on a remote server and stream it to themselves as a private performance.

"The reason you can sing in the shower and not pay Taylor Swift is because Congress has protected this idea of private conduct," said Kanojia.  

Although the technology has moved to the cloud - storing music, email, and movies - it's still private," Kanojia said, adding that the question has now become "How long can the wire be?"

Kanojia noted that he has big plans for the company's future. "We have built a cloud-based DVR that's lighting fast at sub $10 a subscriber in cap ex. Looking ahead, our goal is an open platform," he said, adding that the company is ready for a massive expansion into 50 to 60 markets and is looking for partners to help accelerate that.

The ACA Summit, taking place April 1-3 at the Grand Hyatt, 1000 H Street NW, Washington, D.C, is unique in that it highlights the special role that independent cable operators play in providing world class communications services to consumers in hometown America.

As cable's premier event for smaller, independent and competitive cable operators, the ACA Summit is widely considered to be the best opportunity for small business owners that provide advanced communications services to advocate for change in direct exchanges with Obama Administration officials, Capitol Hill lawmakers and senior FCC personnel.

The 21st ACA Summit extends a long tradition as the most important forum nationally for honoring the critical role played by independent cable operators that serve rural and remote regions of the country that are typically much more costly to build out with advanced technology.

The theme of this year's summit - Our Time Is NOW! - underscores the important legislative and regulatory goals ACA and its Members are pursuing on Capitol Hill and at the FCC.

Please visit the ACA Summit 2014 website by clicking here:  ACA Summit.

About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing about 850 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for nearly 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America.  Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business.  For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/.

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