Aereo Closing Boston Office, Laying Off 43 Workers

Decision Necessary as ‘We Chart Our Path Forward’ (Updated)

As it continues to seek a way forward following a string of court setbacks, Aereo is laying off most of its employees and shutting down its Boston office, the company said in a letter to the state.

In that letter, posted here by Boston magazine and signed by Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia, the company revealed that it expects to close the office on November 12, and that 43 employees will be laid off on that date. “We expect remaining Boston employees to remain temporarily to wind up operations,” he added.

The filing from the company also included the written notice issued to affected employees explaining the decision, and noting that Aereo anticipates offering them “a modest severance package.”

Updated:  In an emailed statement, Aereo spokeswoman Virginia Lam said the move, which included some layoffs at its New York headquarters, was necessary to keep resources in check as Aereo pursues its next plan of action. 

"In an effort to reduce costs, we made the difficult decision to lay off some of our staff in Boston and New York,” she said. “We are continuing to conserve resources while we chart our path forward. We are grateful to our employees for their loyalty, hard work and dedication. This was a difficult, but necessary step in order to preserve the company."

The layoff, which included the majority of Aereo’s staff in both offices, isn’t shutting down. A small executive team of about a dozen people remain with the company. 

The decision isn’t a big surprise following Aereo's recent legal setbacks. Last month, a U.S. district judge granted a preliminary injunction barring Aereo from retransmitting live TV, though keeping the door open to its network-based DVR service. Aereo shut down its service in June – labeling it as “just a pause” – after The Supreme Court ruled that Aereo's delivery of TV station signals to subscribers without paying a copyright fee violates the law, a decision that reversed and remanded a Second Circuit Court of Appeals refusal to block the service while the underlying case was argued in a lower court.

Aereo has since been trying to stay viable by pursuing a statutory license under the Copyright Act, arguing that it is entitled to once in the same way as a traditional cable system.

Aereo recently applauded the circulation of a proposal from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to define some over-the-top video providers as multichannel video programming distributors, a classification that would clear online video distributors to negotiate for program access rights.