Aereo Goes Off the Airwaves in Boston

The company is laying off 43 employees and unplugging its business operations locally.
Image via Associated Press

Image via Associated Press

A company that’s been trying transform the way people view television content, by cutting the cord on cable packages and letting customers stream their favorite shows using tablets and smartphones, is laying off its employees and closing its Boston office following a tumultuous few months of legal battles that landed in the country’s highest court.

Aereo, which used tiny remote antennas to transmit signals from live television broadcasts to its customers’ electronic devices, sent a letter to the state and its 43 Boston workers this week saying that the company is “shutting down its business operations and conducting permanent layoffs” beginning on November 12.

A copy of the letter, which was obtained by BetaBoston, said the layoffs and demise of the local outfit are rooted in the lack of future investments. Questions about what’s next for the company as a whole lingered following the news on Thursday, but a spokeswoman from Aereo said in a statement that they will “chart” their path forward. Some employees in New York will also lose their jobs to help “reduce costs” and “conserve resources,” the company said.

In June, Aereo lost a critical Supreme Court battle when the Justices ruled that the company violated the federal Copyright Act by taking content from the airwaves and sending it to its customers. “Aereo neither owns the copyright in those works nor holds a license from the copyright owners to perform those works publicly,” the court wrote in their 6-3 decision.

Just days later, Aereo announced that they would be “pausing” operations as a direct result of the court’s decision as they mapped out their next steps.

Aereo then spent months trying to secure a statutory license under the Copyright Act in the same vein as a standard cable company, but failed in their pursuit. Then, in October, a federal court in New York delivered the final blow to Aereo when they filed a nationwide injunction against the company, barring them from transmitting live television broadcasts, and, ultimately, from acquiring a license.

Employees losing their jobs will be offered a “modest severance package,” according to the letter, which can be read below:

WARN Notice – Aereo Inc – Received 11-6-14 by April Reilly


Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine sannear@bostonmagazine.com