As the battle for Americans’ right to congressionally granted free-to-air broadcast access heats up, Alki David, CEO and Founder of Internet television service FilmOn, has responded to rival Aereo’s December 12th brief asking for a Supreme Court hearing (Aereo welcomes Supreme Court battle).
“Aereo’s brief asking for a Supreme Court hearing is vital to the evolution of our technologies and our business as well as to stop some very bad injustices,” said David, who added that FilmOn had always acted within the scope of the law and contended that it is the networks who have resorted to anti-competitive and repeated acts of criminality including cyber attacks, bribery, corruption and threats of violence.
FilmOn notes that while its service and Aereo that of are often discussed together because of the tandem litigation, the distinction is that while both use individually rented remote antenna farms, FilmOn’s service is completely free. Aereo charges a monthly subscription fee. Additionally FilmOn creates its own original programming and offers an extensive selection of officially licensed content including over 45,000 video on demand titles and 600 channels from broadcasters and content providers.
According to FilmOn, the big broadcasters have challenged this system region by region despite the fact that the original ads are shown to the viewer intact. FilmOn is currently awaiting a decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which will affect the company’s ability to provide the antenna based service in nine Western states including major markets such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle and San Francisco.
“There are five media companies running the whole US TV business,” said David. “The reality is that these broadcasters who were granted their spectrum by Congress to serve the public have become so powerful that it seems that they have created an extraordinary monopoly beyond the control of the FCC and of the Government itself.”
FilmOn and Aereo have filed amicus (friend of court) briefs in support of each other’s court battles in the past, (and Aereo has won the right to provide its service in New England), because each time one company wins the right to serve a region it provides precedent for the other.
David has announced his intention to take FIlmOn’s case to the Supreme Court if the Ninth Circuit does not rule in his favour.
“The Supreme Court will ultimately deal with this – whether at FilmOn’s request or Aereo’s – because this is how young people watch television. They refuse to be ripped off by the cable companies,” argued David. “Fortunately for our revenues, most of our business comes from advertising on Filmon.TV, the parent platform, where the core audience is males 18-40. Not 50+ which is the average age of network television audiences.”