Aereo has reached a deal with broadcasters in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that will allow the former streaming service to auction off its TV technology — as long the the networks be allowed to monitor the process and examine any potential deal. The latest news comes after Aereo filed for voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization last month following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June that Aereo must pay broadcasters to retransmit their free, over-the-air signals.
According to the order (read it here, along with the auction guidelines) filed Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, the final bidding deadline is February 15, 2015 “for all or substantially all of its assets, pursuant to Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code (the “Sale”), as an entirety or in one or more lots,” wrote U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean H. Lane. The court said the auction will be held February 24, with a deadline of sale approval set for March 11. The creditors — including the parent companies of the Big 4 networks– will receive weekly updates on the sales process and be allowed to attend the auction.
The doc also says Aereo retains the right to seek approval of a stalking horse and stalking horse bid “consistent with the Bidding Procedures,” including payment of any break-up fee.
That Supreme Court case ended pretty much all hope that Aereo could continue as a TV service, which broadcasters opposed because it violated networks’ copyrights. In October, a U.S. District Court imposed a nationwide injunction. The company also hoped that the FCC or the U.S. Copyright Office might deem it the equivalent of a cable company, which might have opened opportunities to negotiate programming deals or offer local broadcast signals for a relatively small fee.
At the time of the bankruptcy filing, Aereo said it was to preserve its value “without the extensive cost and distraction of defending drawn out litigation in several courts.”