Latino small-business owners and community leaders are
worried that Aereo's plan to retransmit broadcast-TV content without consent
will ultimately affect stations' ability to invest in Hispanic-targeted
"Basically, what Aereo does threatens the economic support
that broadcasters like ABC, NBC or CBS have given to the local Latino communities,"
Guillermo Chacón, a Latino community activist in New York and president of the
Latino Commission on AIDS, said. "Why would ABC or NBC pay to produce relevant
programming to [our] communities if their content is basically being taken for
free by a third party provider like Aereo?"
to launch a subscription service this month in New York that would allow
users to watch broadcast signals on their smart phones, tablets or any
Internet-enabled device. The Aereo service uses a farm of dime-sized antennas
to pick up over-the-air signals, then encodes them for real-time delivery to
iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices.
Broadcasters, including Univision and Telemundo, have filed a
pair of federal lawsuits against Aereo, alleging copyright violations. They
asked the court for an injunction to block the service.
"No amount of technological gimmickry by Aereo -- or claims
that it is simply providing a set of sophisticated ‘rabbit ears' -- changes the
fundamental principle of copyright laws that those who wish to retransmit plaintiffs'
broadcasts may do so only with plaintiffs' authority," the broadcasters said in
Aereo this week filed an answer and counterclaim that
vigorously denies it has broken any copyright laws.
In a public letter signed and distributed last week, Chacon
expressed his concerns -- and those of other community leaders -- saying: "If
companies like Aereo make it impossible for local stations to make back their
investment, they won't be able to create that programming any more. And that
would be very bad news for all of the people who depend on local stations that
care enough to invest in diverse programming that can tell our stories."
His letter concludes, "We respectfully ask Aereo to withdraw
immediately their plans."
Echoing this sentiment is Lisa Alvarado, a consultant to
small businesses and vice president of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, who
thinks the very idea behind Aereo is "very upsetting" for both small businesses
and community programming.
"This is a slap in the face to the people working to put
[community] programs together," Alvarado said.
Aereo, whose investors include Barry Diller of IAC/InterActiveCorp,
expects the service to be in 75 to 100 cities within a year after making its
debut in New York.