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Federal Court in Boston Rules in Favor of Aereo

BOSTON—A federal judge in Boston has denied a motion from the Hearst station group to impose a preliminary injunction against Aereo; in effect, allowing the service to continue operating in Beantown. Hearst had filed the motion on behalf of WCVB-TV.

Aereo, which is retransmitting local broadcast signals via tiny antenna arrays without consent from broadcasters, is the subject of several lawsuits from broadcast companies. In the Boston case, the court found that Hearst’s arguments for shuttering the service in Boston are insufficient.

“Hearst fails to make a sufficient showing that it is likely to prevail on any of [its] claims and therefore this factor weighs against a preliminary injunction in its favor,” Federal Judge Nathaniel Gorton said in his decision. In addition, the judge denied Aereo’s request to move the case to New York.

Aereo launched its service last year in New York and has since expanded to Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami and Salt Lake City with plans to launch in other cities throughout the U.S. in coming months. In response to the ruling, Aereo CEO and Founder Chet Kenojia said “today’s victory belongs to the consumer and today’s decision, makes clear that there is no reason that consumers should be limited to 1950’s technology to access over the air broadcast television.”

After the announcement, FilmOn, a similar video streaming service that was shut down last month by a D.C. District Court, said it would “defy” the court injunction and launch its service in Boston, according to sister publication Broadcasting & Cable.

In other related Aereo legal news, a judge in New York denied the company’s request to excuse them from revealing certain patent information on the Aereo platform, which claims that it should not have to reveal such information because of attorney-client privilege.

Variety reports that, according to sources, broadcasters are planning to petition the Supreme Court to review the lower court rulings that have favored Aereo.

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Technology (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.