After a short reprieve, Aereo’s service in Utah and Colorado shut down this morning at 10. Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit refused to overturn a preliminary injunction against Aereo granted two weeks ago by a Utah District Court Judge Dale Kimball. With that last appeal exhausted, Aereo was left with little choice but to stop serving customers within the Tenth Circuit.
In an email to affected subscribers, Aereo founder Chet Kanojia wrote, “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.” As Kanojia has repeatedly said elsewhere, the case boils down to the length of the wire from the antenna to the viewer. (An edited version of that subscriber note now greets visitors to Aereo’s Denver home page.)
The subscriber note continued, “We are unwavering in our belief that Aereo’s technology falls squarely within the law and we look forward to continuing to serve you.” If we all get lucky and the US Supreme Court confirms Aereo’s right to stream OTA TV, Denver viewers might be able to watch it again this summer. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
© DepositPhotos / AlphaBaby
Broadcasting & Cable’s John Eggerton wrote that the reason Aereo is still available in Colorado and Utah is that the Utah judge that blocked them there had yet to rule on Aereo’s request for a stay of his injunction.
A short time that article hit the web, Eggerton added an update that US District Court Judge Dale Kimball denied Aereo’s request but would give Aereo a temporary 14-day stay while it appealed his decision to a federal appeals court.
Kimball wrote: “While Aereo’s paying customers benefit from Aereo’s infringement in the form of lower subscription rates, the court assumes that they are mostly unaware of whether Aereo is abiding by governing copyright laws and paying the appropriate licensing fees to engage in such business. This confusion in the marketplace is part of the intangible harms to Plaintiffs.” What garbage! Find me a study of Aereo subscribers that suggests they believe Aereo is paying retransmission consent fees.
Kimball continued: “The court also recognizes that harms are accruing to Plaintiffs every day and enforcement of the copyright laws is a clear public benefit to the public as a whole. The court, however, finds some benefit in allowing Aereo’s customers uninterrupted service pending the Tenth Circuit’s decision on an emergency motion to stay. Therefore, notwithstanding the many factors weighing against a stay, the court, in its discretion, grants Aereo a temporary 14-day stay.”
Given that Kimball wrote that today, that would suggest that we Aereo viewers in Denver have until March 11 or whenever the appeals court rules, whichever comes first. We have that much more time to enjoy it while we can.
© DepositPhotos / Elnur
A couple of days ago, Utah district court judge Dale Kimball granted a preliminary injunction for Fox against Aereo, that spunky online streaming service for over-the-air TV. Kimball’s injunction covers all the states in his district, including Colorado. Which means that, here at FTABlog World Headquarters in Denver, my days of watching Aereo are probably winding to an end.
I was a little surprised that I’m still able to watch 36 hours after the injunction. When I asked the hardest working man in Washington, Broadcasting & Cable’s John Eggerton, he followed up with another note, writing, “Turns out that decision does not become final until after Fox posts a $150,000 bond with the court, which Fox said it planned to do sometime late Thursday or Friday.”
To tell the truth, I’m afraid that this will only change Aereo’s Denver shutdown date by a few months. The Supreme Court will rule on Aereo’s legality this summer, and its post describing the question to be decided matched the broadcasters’ filing as opposed to Aereo’s. That would be very disappointing, forcing every viewer who wants to DVR his OTA channels to set up his own antenna with Windows Media Center or buy a Simple.TV or a Tablo or a ChannelMaster DVR+. Aereo is/was an inexpensive, $0-to-start alternative. As I say all too often about the free-to-air TV world, if it goes away, at least it was nice while it lasted.
Update: Now I hear that Fox might not get around to posting that bond until Monday, giving Aereo another full weekend of life in Utah and Colorado. Fox sure isn’t displaying much urgency in issuing the check that will give it relief from the “irreparable harm” it said it was suffering.
Update 2: Eggerton sent word that Fox finally posted that bond, but Aereo had filed for a stay of the injunction. Until that stay request is decided, Aereo continues to serve Salt Lake City and Denver.
FTABlog has a long history with Fashion TV, that great channel featuring oddly dressed beautiful people who walk in strange ways across runways. Fashion TV used to be available on FTA satellite, and it has been available on streaming TV through DishWorld and FilmOn. Around midnight Feb. 1, both of those platforms abruptly lost Fashion TV. DishWorld went black for that slot, with a “temporarily unavailable” message. FilmOn replaced it with the Fashion One network, although keeping the Fashion TV logo in its channel list.
If Fashion TV had disappeared on, say January 24, I would have suspected some technical issue, but the timing of this problem made me think that it was based on some kind of dispute. Thanks to a press release (PDF) from SatLink Communications, I think I know what happened. That Feb. 4 release says that SatLink “extended its agreement” to distribute Fashion TV on its C-band satellites. Sure enough, DishWorld resumed carrying Fashion TV the next morning. (FilmOn, ever the rebel, continues to show Fashion One on its “Fashion TV” channel as of this writing.)
And so you have the latest news about Fashion TV. Presumably, it won’t suffer another outage like this one any time soon. Does anyone else actually watch Fashion TV?
Vitrine interactive de Valeo au CES 2014 from Vendredi 4 on Vimeo.
Here’s my last report from the 2014 International CES. (Not the “Consumer Electronics Show,” as too many ill-informed stories still name it. I suppose their authors still write about the “Entertainment and Sports Programming Network” or the “Columbia Broascasting System” or even “Kentucky Fried Chicken.” But I digress.) This story took a long time to finish because it’s kind of embarassing. Let me try to explain.
CES is an amazing, mind-blowing supermarket of eye candy, self-importance, incremental improvements, and occasionally real breakthroughs, all spread out over two huge convention centers and a couple of parking lots. All that wonderfulness and walking can tire the mind and feet, and quiet breaks are a great way to recharge for more exploration. With the crush of 150,000 milling people, quiet can be difficult to find.
Although I’ve attended every CES since 2005, this was only my third CES with certified press credentials. As much fun as it is to attend as a regular old industry affiliate, being a member of the press makes it so much nicer. There are a couple of oases called press rooms with coffee, water, and around noon, a horde of press attendees covering every sittable surface while they consume their free box lunches. Outside on the main foor, exhibitors (some of them, anyway) see a press badge and make a special effort to tell their stories.
Another press perk is the willingness, nay eagerness, of so many exhibitors to hand out goodies. Press room staffers hand out handfuls of USB drives, each with a different exhibitor’s press info. All sorts of email invitations pile up before each show. Audio-Technica asked me to schedule a fitting for what turned out to be the best earbuds I’ve ever used. Gavio lured me with its Metallon Zinc earbuds, which were just as good. I accepted invitations to attend the Compass Intelligence Awards luncheon and a “Transforming Television” breakfast with the Interactive TV Alliance. I even made a note to drop by for lunch at the invitation of Valeo.
One more note I need to add, one you may have already figured out, is that there’s never enough time to visit everything at CES. Based on past visits, I resolved to keep to a narrow focus on TV and video, pausing only to accept free earbuds and to eat. I drew up a personal schedule with press conferences, booth visits, and meals. For each appointment, I listed only the company name, location, and time. Most of the entries matched my narrow focus. I had winnowed away most invitations and offers from exhibitors who didn’t fit what I write about. Somehow, I don’t know how or why, I added Valeo’s lunch invitation to my schedule.
And so we finally arrive at this story. It was CES Tuesday, Day One for most exhibitors but Day Three for the press, including me. After Sunday’s CES Unveiled event and a Monday full of press conferences, I started much too early at that ITV Alliance breakfast, then rode a shuttle bus to the Venetian’s exhibit halls. where I talked with folks from Samba and Tablo. I returned to the Las Vegas Convention Center a little after noon, and my mind was already too full. I consulted my schedule, which said “noonish – Valeo lunch, Central Plaza 10.” So that’s where I went.
Quick question: What does Valeo make? Did you know before you started reading this? I’ll admit that I didn’t know that Tuesday. Since they were on my schedule and I vaguely remembered something about lighting, I assumed it was a home theater supplier of some kind. The front display of its outdoor booth had a much of TV screens with eyes. Yeah, that must be it. And that set up a scene right out of the Beverly Hillbillies or some other farce where both sides of a conversation completely misunderstand each other. Or maybe it was just me. It went pretty much like this:
Valeo guy: Welcome to our booth. Which product line of ours are you most interested in?
Me: Uh, the lighting.
Valeo: Great, what aspect of the lighting? How can I help you relate that to your coverage area?
Me: Uh, y’know, how families depend on those lighting sources for what they need.
Valeo: I see. Would you like to have lunch with one of our product managers so we can explain it more to you?
As I sat there eating a delicate, expertly prepared lunch so graciously provided by Valeo’s chefs, a friendly account manager patiently explained Valeo’s innovations in the world of automotive lighting. Magnificent, ground-breaking, stylish automotive lighting. Which have as much to do with FTABlog as iPhone cases. Awkward! My lunch guest explained that they’ve created a smart high-beam headlights that detects oncoming traffic at night and automatically reduce the light only in the direction of that vehicle, which sees only normal low-beam light. (Too bad that system is currently illegal in the US because of esoteric headlight rules.) Valeo has created designer headlight patterns so that certain car models could sport distinctive lights. It all sounded very impressive, but still not relevant. After lunch and a few demonstrations, I thanked my Valeo guest, exchanged business cards then stumbled back into the Las Vegas sunshine on my way to the rest of my appointments.
I mentioned the products and glitter, but my favorite memories of CES are always those of the people I meet, not the products I see. Now I’ve got one more of my accidental lunch and its generous hosts. I’ll be sure to keep that memory easily accessible so I can keep in mind when I build my schedule for CES 2015.
You know what FilmOn needs? A blog.
If our favorite free streaming TV provider had a blog, it could add a post every time something new happened in one of its lawsuits. The FilmOn blog could have noted, as did Wendy Davis of MediaPost, that a couple of weeks ago broadcasters had filed an “emergency motion” to block FilmOn’s appeals until the US Supreme Court rules on the similar Aereo lawsuit. Then FilmOn could have added another post today when, over FilmOn’s objection, a court agreed with that emergency motion and put FilmOn’s appeals on ice, as reported by Colin Mann of Advanced Television. And during legal quiet periods, which now seem likely for a few months, FilmOn founder Alki David could direct his flow of pronouncements and opinions into a regular column in the blog.
One more legal note, the organization behind Chicago PBS station WTTW countersued FilmOn last week, according to yet another fine story by Wendy Davis. FilmOn had asked the courts there for a declaratory judgment that it’s not infringing copyright; this was WTTW’s answer that it strongly disagrees. More about WTTW in a moment.
As much as I’d love to see all these legal proceedings collected under one roof, the main reason I wish FilmOn had a blog is that it might use it to explain what the heck it’s doing with its channels, particularly US over-the-air broadcast channels. A couple of weeks ago, its free service added almost 40 new OTA stations, including superstations, digital sub-channels, and a dozen PBS affiliates. (Some of the new channels have a cute Linux desktop frame, as shown above.)
There’s so much to enjoy about these new channels, mainly because they don’t duplicate programming from the Big Four broadcast networks. There are a dozen CW affiliates, including superstations WGN, KWGN, KTLA, and WPIX. The dozen PBS affiliates, including WTTW, often run local programming too. There are three true independents, from Tampa FL, Atlanta (Peachtree) and Los Angeles. And there are affiliates of the little networks: My Network, MeTV, The Cool, Cozi, Bounce, PBS Kids, PBS World, V-Me, ion (or is it ion Life?), and Qubo.
For a few days last week, FilmOn also offered most of the OTA stations and sub-channels from the Los Angeles market, minus the Big Four affiliates. Today, they’re all gone, an example of why I hesitate to write about new FilmOn channels that can vanish as quickly as they appear. Why did they leave? Will they come back? An official blog could answer those questions.
FilmOn appears to be delivering this prime array of supplemental OTA TV to everyone regardless of market, as opposed to the Big Four affiliates in New York, which are only visible to NYC area viewers. It’s an amazing resource. I wonder how long these will last, or what FilmOn will do next. Sure wish they had a blog to tell us.
After last year’s International CES, I received so many comments from readers that said, “What a tease! You said there are a gazillion iPhone cases at CES, but you only showed us two measly pictures of them. Next year, we want more.” And then there was the guy who asked, “They’ve got everything else at that show, what about Hobots?” Comments like that were what drove me to take all of the following photos. Be careful what you wish for!
From a vendor selling iPhone cases claiming to protect kids by blocking cell phone radiation.
And there’s your Hobot. Turns out that it cleans windows.
I still have at least two CES stories left to run, if you include the iPhone case roundup. But neither of them will be as long or as thorough as Kara Swisher’s sweeping, photo-dotted roundup that she wrote for Recode.net. If you want another glimpse of CES from the trenches, go read it!
I pity this poor guy. CES fatigue is real, but it normally takes a while to develop, and this was the afternoon of Day One.
The 2014 edition of the International CES is over, and all reports suggest that it was the largest yet. That’s true for automotive fans or health gadget followers, but for us satellite folks, it was a little disappointing.
Once upon a time, I could count on CES to show off the latest in satellite free-to-air equipment, the FTA in this blog’s name. That presence dwindled, and in 2014, there was absolutely zero satellite FTA at the show. Searching for “satellite” in the over 3200 exhibitors’ descriptions turned up only 15 matches, including “satellite offices” and companies that supply to satellite and cable providers. Even Dish Network’s “Be anywhere, watch everything” description didn’t mention that s-word; Dish just happens to deliver most of its content through geosynchronous whatchamacallits.
On the other hand, a few companies showed a renewed interest in over-the-air free TV viewing. I got to hold simple.TV‘s second-generation receiver, fresh off the boat. Tablo exhibited a OTA receiver that’s very, very similar to simple.TV’s but with a tablet-oriented interface. Even venerable antenna manufacturer Channel Master introduced its own OTA receiver, the DVR+, which will launch with no guide subscription fees. The DVR+ also won a CES Innovations 2014 Design and Engineering Award.
And most importantly, CES draws together all sorts of people to meet. I talked with technological innovators, iPhone case demonstrators, and some of the other folks who write about what’s new. I was even present for a friendly meeting of attendees from SatelliteGuys and DBSTalk at the Dish booth. There’s a lot of noise at every CES, but the connections make it worth it every year.
iPhone cases, second in a series
One of the hot topic at the International CES this year (along with driverless cars, wearable tech, and iPhone cases) was the “Internet of Things”, sometimes called “Internet everywhere”. Companies pushing the next new thing extolled the virtues of wirelessly connected appliances, so users could turn off a washing machine from the office.
Very few people mentioned anything about the downside of having all these internet-chatting devices around the house. I was starting to put together an article to explain the problems with this setup, then I saw that Peter Bright had already written it for ars technica. You need to go read Disaster Waiting to Happen.