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Fox Seeks Appeal on Dish’s AutoHop

4 Jun, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Lawyers for Fox Broadcasting Co. June 4 are headed to federal court in Pasadena, Calif. seeking to overturn a district court judge’s ruling approving Dish Network’s controversial TV ad-skipping feature dubbed AutoHop.

The technology, along with Primetime Anytime, enable Dish subscribers to skip ads on recorded network programming via the Hopper DVR. Fox, along with other networks, sued the satellite TV operator claiming AutoHop violates its broadcasting and copyright agreements with Dish.

Primetime Anytime incorporates Sling Media technology that allows subscribers to access recorded programming on tablets and smartphones with or without an Internet connection. Satellite operator EchoStar, which is owned by Dish founder and chairman Charlie Ergen, acquired Sling in 2007.

Last November, U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee ruled in favor of Dish by denying Fox’s preliminary injunction request against AutoHop. Fox subsequently filed another preliminary injunction against Sling.

“This appeal does not challenge VCRs, DVR, or viewers’ ability to select and record programs for later viewing,” Fox said in the filing. “What it does challenge is Dish’s wholesale copying of Fox’s copyrighted primetime programming in order to offer its subscribers an on-demand library of commercial-free programs.”

Englewood, Colo.-based Dish doesn’t agree.

“Fox sat idle and silent … as Dish has developed and marketed the technologies behind Dish Anywhere and Hopper Transfers,” R. Stanton Dodge, EVP and general counsel with Dish, said in March. “The district court denied Fox’s prior attempt to deprive consumers of Hopper features and we believe that Fox’s second bite at the apple is likewise meritless.”

Separately, Dish said the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act in connection with its proposed $25.5 billion acquisition of Sprint Nextel Corp expired June 3.

Dish is battling Japan’s SoftBank, which already has an offer on the table to acquire Sprint.

The satellite TV operator is eyeing rolling out a nationwide wireless network for connected devices through its Blockbuster stores and other channels.
Meanwhile, Sprint June 3 in a letter to Clearwire Corp.’s board, criticized Dish’s separate offer to acquire the wireless carrier, claiming conditions set by Dish make closing the deal impossible.

ronically, Sprint, which is a majority stakeholder in Clearwire, is competing with Dish to acquire the remaining interest.


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