(Updated: 9:00 p.m. PST)
Newbie streaming service Aereo is urging customers to cut the cable cord and stream live television — but the network big boys clearly don't care for its pitch.
Roughly two weeks before it is set to launch in New York, the company was slapped with a pair of lawsuits on Thursday by NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, PBS and Univision that charged copyright violation.
Aereo works by picking up broadcast signals over clusters of tiny antennas and sending them via the internet to users' mobile devices, computers or tablets for $12 a month.
But the networks insist that because Aereo is setting itself up as a direct competitor, it needs their consent to stream their programming.
"No amount of technological gimmickry by Aereo — or claims that it is simply providing a set of sophisticated "rabbit ears" — changes the fundamental principle of copyright laws that those who wish to retransmit Plaintiffs' broadcasts may do so only with Plaintiffs authority," a suit filed by Fox, PBS and Univision reads.
In a statement, CBS, ABC and NBC, which filed a separate complaint were even more direct.
"This service is based on the illegal use of our content. Beyond that, we believe the complaint speaks for itself," the networks said.
Both suits were filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and ask for injunctive relief and damages.
Aereo is partly backed by Barry Diller's media company IAC. Diller also sits on the company's board.
In a blog post, Aereo said the broadcasters’ position had no merit and argued that consumers are legally entitled to access broadcast television with an antenna and to record shows for their personal use.
"Aereo looks forward to its upcoming product launch as well as a prompt resolution of these cases," the company said.
The service was scheduled to begin exclusively in New York City on March 14.