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Fox Renews Rhetoric Against Dish’s Ad-Skipping DVR

5 Feb, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel


Fox Broadcasting Co. has escalated its war of words in the ongoing litigation against Dish Network’s Hopper digital video recorder and its controversial ad-skipping technology.

Fox and several other media companies, including NBC, CBS and ABC, have filed separate law suits against the AutoHop technology, claiming it violates copyrights and carriage agreements, among other issues.

Dish’s AutoHop technology allows Hopper users to automatically skip TV ads on recorded — not live — primetime programming.

Last November, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of Dish by denying Fox’s preliminary injunction request against AutoHop.

In the Jan. 31 brief filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Fox said Dish is attracting subscribers by offering them on-demand access to primetime programs, which they did not have to record themselves and which can be viewed commercial-free. It contends Dish could not do this without breaching its license agreement with Fox and infringing Fox’s copyrights. 

“Dish’s colorful allusions, over-the-top mockery and baseless accusations that Fox is attempting to re-litigate the 30-year-old Sony case have one purpose: to draw the court’s attention away from the fact that Dish is directly infringing [upon] Fox’s copyrights and breaching its license agreement with Fox,” the broadcaster said in the brief.

Fox said the District Court’s decision last year “effectively” nullified the contractual protections against unauthorized copying, commercial-free VOD and anything similar to VOD that Fox bargained for in order to protect the ongoing profitability of its business model. 

“Dish’s pro-consumer bluster is phony,” Fox said. “Dish is offering commercial-free TV because it helps Dish sell [satellite TV] subscriptions. But behind the scenes, Dish is planning to eventually substitute Fox’s obliterated ads with its own advertisements. The only way to serve the public interest is to protect ad-supported television, which fuels the local and national economies, employs thousands and provides millions of Americans with access to quality programming for a fraction of the cost.”

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