Special Report: Media Mavens 2012

Media Mavens: Chet Kanojia, Founder and CEO, Aereo

Going Up Against the Big Four of Broadcast to Change the Way People Watch TV

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Chet Kanojia
Chet Kanojia

Résumé: The founder and CEO of Navic Networks, acquired by Microsoft in 2008 for $200 million, Chet Kanojia started work on Aereo two years ago; it launched this summer.

Challenge: Mr. Kanojia wants to change the way people get their TV by bringing together over-the-air signals with the web -- but first he has to go up against major broadcast networks.

Quick fact: He holds more than 14 patents ranging from robotics to data-communications systems.

Mr. Kanojia launched Aereo, which brings to together over-the-air TV and the web, to simplify TV watching. "Most people watch only seven or eight channels, not 200, and most still watch broadcast," he said. The device uses mini-antennas to redistribute broadcasters' signals to internet-connected devices. It's also drawn the ire of NBC, CBS, ABC and other broadcasters that argue Aereo, which is backed by Barry Diller's IAC, is violating copyright law by avoiding paying retransmission fees.

Mr. Kanojia says that broadcast TV is essentially free for anyone who wants to go out and buy an antenna and DVR player and hook it up. Aereo is just doing this for them.

The company has insisted that by assigning each subscriber, who pay $12 per month for the service, their own antennas and converting the signal into individual copies for each subscriber, it's not violating any laws.

Aereo and Mr. Kanojia had a major victory in July when a judge ruled in the company's favor, denying a temporary injunction to shut the company down and allowing it to keep operating. The broadcasters have appealed the ruling.

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