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ivi Moves Into Chicago

CHICAGO: The outfit suing broadcasters over online signal carriage has launched service in Chicago, flack Hal Bringman said today. ivi is the Seattle-based company streaming live broadcast TV signals online without benefit of contractual permission to do so. The founders consider broadcast signals to be fair game under a collective statutory copyright license.

As far as broadcasters are concerned, ivi is a pirate that started high-jacking signals earlier this year, first in Seattle, then in New York and later, Los Angeles. Now Chicago is up, with Philadelphia on deck. It charges $5 a month for an online subscription package available through a downloable app. They typically carry signals from ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CW and PBS affiliates. ivi says it’s now offering a total of 65 channels.

ivi filed suit against broadcasters in U.S. District Court in Seattle seeking an affirmation of its legal position. Broadcasters have filed in a New York federal court, seeking to shut ivi down.

ivi has not released subscriber numbers, though Bringman says “no other cable company has grown as quickly as has.” What it does do is make a great deal of noise about programming. It’s jumped on the Comcast-NBC anti-merger bandwagon, joining the slew of voices in Washington, D.C. demanding that regulators protect their particular interest.

“If the merger is approved, the FCC must include enforceable measures to prevent Comcast from monopolizing the content marketplace, limiting access to content for its on-line competitors, and further extorting consumers,” ivi chief Todd Weaver said in the Chicago launch announcement.