Aereo’s Chet Kanoji told CNBC on Tuesday his company charges for technology not TV content, and therefore is not infringing on copyrights.
Launched in 2011 and backed by media mogul Barry Diller, the TV-over-the-Internet start-up has been embroiled in a fight with the broadcast networks that has gone all the way to the Supreme Court, with decision expected later this month.
Aereo, No. 7 on CNBC’s second-annual Disruptor 50 list, allows subscribers to watch and record their local, over-the-air broadcast channels via a tiny remote antenna and cloud-based DVR.
Any customer can buy an antenna and DVR for their home and watch and record their local channels, Kanojia said in a “Squawk Box” interview. The Aereo CEO said his company is doing the same thing but with more modern technology that customers rent.
The networks including CNBC’s parent NBC as well as ABC, CBS, and Fox say Aereo steals free, over-the-air programming and then transmits that content to its paying online customers without paying retransmission fees to the broadcasters.
Aereo can offer its services for around $8 to $12 a month, a fraction of the cost of a typical monthly cable subscription. The service is available in about 11 cities, including New York, Miami, Boston, Atlanta and Houston, with more on the way.
—By CNBC’s Matthew J. Belvedere
Disclosure: CNBC and NBC are owned by cable company Comcast.