A top CBS spokesman responded to news of Aereo's expansion to Boston by tweeting Tuesday, "And we will be there to sue them."
CBS executive vice president of communications Dana McClintock posted the legal threat while retweeting a Wrap story about Aereo's announcement.
"Stealing our signal will be found to be illegal in Boston, just as it will be everywhere else," added McClintock, a native of the Boston area. "Then again, if Aereo’s business is as successful in Boston as it’s been in NY, it has its own problems to deal with."
Aereo announced Tuesday morning that it would begin offering its service in Boston, its first market outside of the New York City area, on May 15. Broadcasters have mocked Aereo, a private company, for declining to say how many subscribers it has. Their implication is that the business is flailing.
Aereo uses small antennae to transmit broadcast signals to computers. Broadcasters say that amounts to illegal retransmission, and are already locked in litigation with Aereo.
Reached by email Tuesday, McClintock declined to comment beyond the tweets.
Aereo relays ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, the CW, Univision and PBS, among other networks available by antenna, but does not relay cable channels. The company has announced plans to move to 22 markets, including Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia.
Aereo poses a threat to networks in part because it lets customers fast-forward through ads. That undercuts the traditional ad-sponsored TV model, which is already besieged by DVR viewing and Dish's ad-skipping AutoHop service.
Aereo says all it is doing is harnessing — on a massive scale — the power of the humble antenna, which has always given TV owners access to the public airwaves.