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U.S. top court denies FilmOn X role in Aereo case

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday that online television service FilmOn X LLC cannot intervene in support of competitor Aereo Inc, which is being challenged by the four major U.S. broadcasters over its use of television broadcast signals.

The case, to be argued on April 22, will determine whether both online companies can continue with their practice of using network content without paying licensing fees.

In a brief order the court said on Monday that it had rejected FilmOn X's request to participate in the one-hour oral argument and in the written briefing of the case.

The broadcasters claim both services violate their copyrights and represent a threat to their ability to control subscription fees and generate advertising.

The broadcasters, Walt Disney Co's ABC network, CBS Corp, Comcast Corp's NBCUniversal and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, sought high court review after the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled for Aereo in April.

FilmOn X has been involved in litigation similar to that faced by Aereo. The company has appeals pending before the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after losing in lower courts.

The Supreme Court rarely grants motions like the one filed by FilmOn X. The company can still file a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.

Aereo, backed by Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp, and FilmOn X, founded by Internet entrepreneur Alki David, use similar technology that allows viewers to watch network television on computers and mobile devices. The images are captured via remote antennas. Users then receive the content via the Internet.

The case is ABC v. Aereo Inc, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-461.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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