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CEA Backs Team Aereo

Jeff Baumgartner
10/31/2012

Welcome to the broadband and cable news round-up, Hump Day edition.

  • The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is aiding Aereo Inc. 's plight against major U.S. broadcasters by filing an amicus brief (a formal legal opinion). The CEA argues that Aereo's case hinges on the basic principles from the 1984 Sony Betamax case, stating that "our legal system can and must favor innovation over the status quo." In New York City, Aereo is using an array of thumb-sized antennas to capture TV broadcasts and then feed them to subscribers via broadband. It's teaming that with a network-based DVR. (See Judge Keeps Aereo on the Air and Diller's Aereo Under Legal Attack.)

    "In Sony, it was time shifting broadcasting by a VCR; in Aereo, it is accessing free broadcasting through a computer. In both cases, the technology expands the audience, is consistent with broadcaster-borrowed use of public spectrum for free, over-the-air broadcasting and is being challenged as it is disruptive, new and not allowing consumer control by old industries," said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro in a statement.

  • Boxee has signed a deal to sell its new broadband-connected Boxee TV device exclusively at more than 3,000 Wal-Mart stores starting Nov. 1, reports Bloomberg. Wal-Mart will also put some promotion muscle behind Boxee's new $98 device, which features an over-the-air digital TV tuner and access to a cloud-based "No Limits DVR" service that will sell for $14.99 per month and initially be offered in eight U.S. markets: New York City; Los Angeles; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Atlanta; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C. (See Boxee CEO Now a Friend of Big Cable?)

  • Cable Bahamas Ltd. is expanding into Florida after landing a $65 million deal to acquire three privately owned operators in the state. Cable Bahamas expects the deals to close before the end of the year.

  • Roku Inc. has introduced a new search capability that cross-indexes data from Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Crackle, Vudu and HBO GO. Roku says the new search option can help users sift through about 130,000 movies and TV episodes, and currently works on the following models: the Roku 2, Roku LT and Roku HD.

  • Staying with Roku, the company has expanded its senior management team to include three general managers: Steve Shannon, formerly with companies such as Akimbo Systems and ReplayTV, will head up Roku's content and services group; Collette Bunton, formerly a VP of M&A at Logitech Ltd. , will run Roku's devices group; and Chas Smith, who helped Roku introduce its new Streaming Stick, will lead the expansion of Roku's platform "beyond the set-top box" and into other consumer electronics devices. (See Roku Streaming Stick to Fetch $99.99.)

  • Video-on-demand server and software company Concurrent Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: CCUR) posted fiscal first-quarter net income of $325,000 (4 cents per share) on revenues of $15 million, up from $12.9 million in the year-ago quarter. It ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $28.9 million and no debt.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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