Facing Legal Challenges from Broadcasters, Aereo Launches in New York City

The Barry Diller backed digital television company is accused of violating copyright

Despite lawsuits from all of the major broadcast networks, digital television company Aereo officially launched its service on Wednesday.

Aereo works by picking up broadcast signals over clusters of tiny antennas and sending them via the internet to users' mobile devices, computers, or web enabled televisions for $12 a month.

However, Aereo is facing a fierce legal challenge from NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, PBS and Univision, all of whom have filed suit alleging copyright violation. They argue that Aereo does not have their consent to retransmit their programming.

Also read: Aereo Countersues Broadcasters in Copyright Dispute

In a countersuit filed this week in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Aereo argues that it has a legal right to access broadcast signals because the airwaves are publicly owned.

Initially, Aereo will only be available in the New York market. As an enticement, the company said it will give  members a 90-day free trial.

Aereo said it offers 20 broadcast channels, 40 hours of DVR storage and the ability to access the service on five devices. There are also social media capabilities that the company says will allow users to interact with other Aereo members on Facebook and Twitter to discuss shows in real-time.

It is compatible on iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad, but does not have support for Android devices.

The company is backed by Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp, and the former Fox and Paramount chief has accused the media companies of resorting to legal challenges in order to protect their own “hegemony” over broadcast television.