Gannett, Allbritton, Others Win Case Against Internet TV Service

Gannett Co., Allbritton Communications and several other broadcasters have won a battle in what appears to be a growing war against Internet television services.

According to AdWeek, the companies -- along with Fox, NBC Universal, Telemundo, ABC and CBS -- wrangled a preliminary injunction from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against FilmON X, a pay service that stream over-the-air television signals to Internet users:

The order bars FilmOn X from continuing to distribute local TV signals over the Internet without permission from broadcasters in Washington, D.C., and other markets.

"This Court concludes that the Copyright Act forbids FilmOn X from retransmitting plaintiffs' copyrighted programs over the Internet," wrote U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer.

The decision, issued Thursday, runs counter to a New York court's refusal to grant broadcasters an injunction against Aereo, a similar service, setting up the possibility that the cases will progress to the Supreme Court. 

Neither FilmOn X nor Aereo, which is owned in part by media mogul Barry Diller, are available in Arkansas. But their business models ask complicated questions about signal ownership, content rights -- heck, the very fundamental business model of broadcast television.

Gannett, of course, owns KTHV-TV, Channel 11, in Little Rock. Allbritton owns KATV-TV, Channel 7, in Little Rock, but is in the process of selling all its stations to Sinclair Broadcast Group.