In three weeks, Aereo, the upstart TV service will be fighting for its life before the Supreme Court. But Chet Kanojia, the Aereo’s CEO and founder, isn’t rattled at all.
“This is not for the faint of heart,” Kanojia said in a sit-down interview at the American Cable Association’s annual summit in Washington, D.C. “We started not just with a team of engineers, but also lawyers.”
Going on the attack against the broadcasters that have sued his company in multiple districts, Kanojia continued to insist that Aereo’s combination of personal antennas and cloud-based technology corrects an imbalance in the marketplace for consumers caught between satisfaction and price in the video market.
“People [broadcasters] say this is a copyright case. It’s not. It’s a business case. This is a bundling case. People want to protect their business model. When they make that much money, they forget right and wrong,” said Kanojia in a sit-down interview at the American Cable Association’s summit in Washington, D.C. “It’s a ludicrous amount of money being made in a collusive universe."
Broadcasters, Kanojia said, are talking out of both sides of their mouths. “They say they’re a free product, but that Aereo should pay. On the one hand they extract $2 billion from retransmission fees and on the other hand, they say the sky is going to fall because Aereo isn’t going to pay,” Kanojia said.
In stark contrast to the broadcasters, Aereo’s Kanojia tries to position the company as taking the high road. First, Aereo, unlike other respondents opposing a Supreme Court challenge, said "bring it on." Most respondents oppose a high court review.
“Let’s call their bluff. We like our facts. The other tactic, being sued in every jurisdiction, is not a productive way to build a business,” Kanojia said.
Speaking like a true technology disrupter, Kanojia also likes to take the high road. “We didn’t start this to make a few bucks; we started this to make a change,” he said. “Our goal was to open up the system. I’m not interested in making a quick return, but lasting change, creating an open online platform.”
Aereo filed its brief with the Supreme Court last week. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in ABC v. Aereo on April 22.