Major television broadcasters filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday asking it to stop Aereo, the controversial streaming service that threatens to upend the industry's lucrative business model.
The petition was the latest in a string of legal challenges filed by ABC, NBC, CBS and other major networks. The broadcasters asked the Supreme Court to resolve conflicting lower-court decisions on whether Aereo's model violates copyright law.
Aereo uses antennas to capture over-the-air broadcast signals and stream those signals to users who pay about $8 a month for the service. Subscribers can watch and record network TV from their computers and mobile devices.
While cable companies pay broadcasters billions of dollars in fees for the right to re-broadcast network TV shows, Aereo pays them nothing.
In their petition, the broadcasters claim that Aereo presents "a direct assault" on their main revenue source and that the Supreme Court "has had little tolerance for business models built on the for-profit exploitation of the copyrighted works of others."
"Today's filing underscores our resolve to see justice done," a Fox spokesperson said in an email. "Make no mistake, Aereo is stealing our broadcast signal. As do so many businesses both large and small, broadcasters rely on enforcement of the law to receive fair value for the high quality news, sports and entertainment we create and in turn deliver to millions of Americans each day."
An Aereo spokeswoman told HuffPost on Friday that the company "will respond, as appropriate, in due course."
Founded in New York City last year and backed by media mogul Barry Diller, Aereo has announced plans to expand to nearly two dozen cities, offering another option to those who piece together their TV viewing from streaming services like Netflix and Hulu rather than through traditional cable packages.
The major broadcast networks have filed several lawsuits in an effort to shut down Aereo, but the startup has maintained that over-the-air broadcast signals are free, and the courts have sided with Aereo, so far. On Thursday, a federal judge denied a request from a Boston TV station seeking an injunction to shut down the streaming service.
But while Aereo has been largely victorious in court, broadcasters have successfully sued other services with similar business models, such as FilmOn X and Aereokiller, in other states.