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Aereo Files For Bankruptcy

“We feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to build something as meaningful and special as Aereo.”

Aereo Files For Bankruptcy
[Photo: Flickr user Regan Walsh]

In an open letter posted today on its website, Aereo announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

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The service, which allowed customers to stream and record network television to their phones and other gadgets via rentable antennas, was struck down by the Supreme Court in June for violating the copyright held by broadcasters like ABC and Fox. Thanks to a legal loophole, Aereo—which had raised somewhere in the ballpark of $100 million from investors—was able to avoid paying the TV networks retransmission fees. Eventually, it fought its way up to the Supreme Court .

The court deemed Aereo illegal—6 to 3—in favor of the television companies.

“Insofar as there are differences, this differences concern not the nature of the service that Aereo provides so much as the technological manner in which it provides the service,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the majority opinion. “We conclude that those differences are not adequate to place Aereo’s activities outside the scope of the [Copyright Act].”

Now Aereo is closing shop. Here’s the full statement from CEO Chet Kanojia:

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A little over three years ago, the team at Aereo set out to build a better television experience for the consumer. We began this journey because we were frustrated with a system that we believed was broken and no longer served the consumer. When it came to watching live television, the options were few, the products available were cumbersome and didn’t fit our increasingly mobile lifestyle, and costs were unreasonably high and rising.

With that in mind, we put our collective engineering power to work to create an online technology that was simple, useful, and compelling, and provided consumers with a true alternative to how they watch local live TV. That’s how Aereo came to life.

Our engineering team created the first cloud-based, individual antenna and DVR that enabled you to record and watch live television on the device of your choice, all via the Internet. In less than two years, we went from drawings on a napkin to launching Aereo’s technology in more than a dozen cities across the country.

The enthusiasm we encountered was overwhelming. The sense of frustration consumers expressed reinforced our mission. We knew we had touched a nerve, had created something special, and had a built something meaningful for consumers.

But we encountered significant challenges from the incumbent media companies.

While we had significant victories in the federal district courts in New York and Boston and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the reversal of the Second Circuit decision in June by the U.S. Supreme Court has proven difficult to overcome. The U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively changed the laws that had governed Aereo’s technology, creating regulatory and legal uncertainty. And while our team has focused its energies on exploring every path forward available to us, without that clarity, the challenges have proven too difficult to overcome.

Accordingly, today, we filed for Chapter 11 reorganization proceedings. We also appointed Lawton Bloom of Argus to serve as Aereo’s Chief Restructuring Officer during this period.

Chapter 11 will permit Aereo to maximize the value of its business and assets without the extensive cost and distraction of defending drawn out litigation in several courts.

We have traveled a long and challenging road. We stayed true to our mission and we believe that we have played a significant part in pushing the conversation forward, helping force positive change in the industry for consumers.

We feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to build something as meaningful and special as Aereo. With so many shifts and advances in technology, there has never been a more perfect time to take risks, challenge the status quo and build something special.

Thank you for all of your support. Your emails, tweets, Facebook posts and letters have meant the world to us. We are incredibly grateful to have gone on this journey together.

About the author

Chris is a staff writer at Fast Company, where he covers business and tech. He has also written for The Week, TIME, Men's Journal, The Atlantic, and more.

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