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FilmOn Takes On Tampa

Expands Broadband TV Service to 16th Market As It Appeals D.C. District Court Injunction 9/26/2013 3:45 PM Eastern

FilmOn.com this week opened up another TV antenna array in Tampa, expanding into its 16th market as the company seeks to overturn a district court injunction.

FilmOn insists that its service doesn’t violate copyright protections or prohibit the company from offering its platform to third parties such as cable operators nationwide, or prevent it from offering access to other local channels in the U.S.

Like Aereo, which is in the midst of separate lawsuits with major TV broadcasters, FilmOn doesn’t pay retransmission fees to broadcasters. FilmOn also delivers local TV stations to customers using remote antennas, but says it uses a slightly different approach.

“As per the sworn affidavits seen in court documents, the differences between Aereo's technology and FilmOn Antenna Array technology, is that FilmOn does not share its connected antennas, whereas Aereo does,” company founder Alki David said in a statement, adding that his company is using a new encoder chip that “makes FilmOn far more scalable than Aereo.”

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York this week, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia declined to make a comparison between the platforms, because he and his company has not yet had any hands-on experience with FilmOn. “We don’t know what the technology is,” Kanojia said, according to Deadline.com.

FilmOn has petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to overturn a district court decision blocking the company from delivering network affiliated local TV stations in all but markets within the jurisdiction of the Second Circuit. The injunction is effective in D.C. and was applied to other markets save for those in the Second Circuit, which has declined to enjoin Aereo.

FilmOn currently offers access to NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC in New York State and Connecticut – both part of the Second Circuit -- for free. It’s offering other local channels comprised of independent stations for free in New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Tampa, Denver, Phoenix and Seattle.

FilmOn said it’s in a “holding pattern” in the Ninth Circuit as it awaits a ruling from the appeals court on its ability to offer local channels for free in a jurisdiction that includes California, Idaho, Alaska, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii and the state of Washington.

Aereo, meanwhile, has launched in Dallas; Houston; New York City; Boston; Atlanta, Salt Lake City; and Miami, and earlier this week added Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; and San Antonio to its launch list for 2013 and 2014.

Although FilmOn and Aereo are engaged in similar court battles with broadcasters, tensions between them got personal earlier in the week, going well beyond technology comparisons.

As first reported by The Verge, David issued some expletive-laden threats  directed to Aereo CEO Chet Kanoijia on Monday (September 23) over a belief that Aereo was responsible for a recent Denial of Service attack on the FilmOn Web site.

 

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April