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Over-the-air streaming TV service Aereo suspends operations

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Aereo, the Barry Diller-backed company plans to consult with the U.S. District Court in New York, hearing broadcasters' complaint against it after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that the service violates station owners' copyrights when it streams their over-the-air programming without permission. "We have decided to pause our operations temporarily as we consult with the court and map out our next steps," Aereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia wrote in a letter to subscribers."

Notably, Kanojia calls the move a "pause" rather than a permanent end to operations, though it seems highly unlikely that the company will be able to move forward in any recognizable form following the decision. In an interview with Bloomberg TV earlier this year, he said the company had "no plan" to move forward if the court ruled against it.

Despite the obvious appeal of an Internet-based mobile TV service that offers a small bundle of channels, the TV industry is reluctant to change its current business model, which is based on selling large packages of channels, many of which consumers never watch. One option for Aereo may be to accept the Supreme Court's declaration that it is a cable company, and seek a license from the broadcasters, although the economics of this might prove prohibitive.

Users will receive a refund for their last paid month. The company had fewer than 500,000 subscribers in about a dozen metropolitan areas. Customers paid $8 to $12 a month to rent one of Aereo's dime-size antennas that captured over-the-air television signals. They then could stream and record programs from major broadcasters using their mobile phones, tablets, laptops and Internet-connected televisions.

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