Dish Network sued the Big Four broadcast networks over their
efforts to "stifle" its service that allows viewers to skip TV commercials
during recorded primetime shows.
Fox and NBC on Thursday sued Dish over its Auto Hop service,
announced May 10, which they claim cuts off their main revenue source by
In its suit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, Dish
is seeking a declaratory judgment that "Dish is not directly or indirectly
infringing the copyrights of the Major Television Networks and is in compliance
with its contracts with the Major Television Networks."
In its suit, Dish describes and defends its Auto Hop
"Even though consumers have had the option, in one form or
another, to skip commercials for decades, the Major Television Networks are
threatening Dish with litigation to eliminate Auto Hop, a patented technology
that allows Dish's paying subscribers to avoid commercials that they might
prefer not to watch."
Dish says it has contracts with each of the major networks that
authorize Dish to rebroadcast their signals. "Dish is required to pay the Major
Television Networks hundreds of millions of dollars per year in retransmission
fees, collected from its subscriber base, for the right to rebroadcast those
signals -- even though the Major Television Networks provide their content at
no charge to television viewers with an over-the-air antenna," Dish says.
Dish notes that since the introduction of the video cassette
recorder, TV viewers have been able to time-shift viewing and fast-forward
through commercials. It says the DVR was the next generation of VHS and that
Auto Hop "allows consumers who are already time-shifting their television
viewing to skip commercials more efficiently by automatically fast-forwarding
through all the commercials at the touch of a button."
Dish says the commercials are not erased or deleted. "They
remain on the recording and can be readily viewed at each customer's individual
option. The Dish Auto Hop feature does not alter or modify the broadcast
Dish says the broadcast networks responded to Auto Hop with
"hostility, threatening litigation." Dish contends that Auto Hop is "a
legitimate, legal DVR feature, and Dish is in full compliance with copyright
law and its rebroadcast agreements with the Major Television Networks."